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Coffee with the Caps, Friday March 17

FC Dallas v Vancouver Whitecaps FC Photo by Christopher Morris - Corbis/Getty Images

Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all have had a fine week and that the Irish among you are having a happy Saint Patrick’s Day. Slainte to you all; I’ll have a Guiness in your honor.

It was a week of hellos and goodbyes in Whitecaps world. On one hand, the Caps will bid a cheerful greeting to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, with a rotated squad doing enough to get by Real Espana into the final eight.

Their opponent will be LAFC, which will be a difficult task but one the Caps have handled at BC Place before. You never know ...

Meanwhile, the Caps officially waived Cristian Gutierrez after months of the left back’s status being in limbo. His destination is now known to be Toronto FC and it will be interesting to see what kind of playing time Guti gets in a somewhat crowded LB room there.

But for the Caps it is another situation where they have egg on their face. It was rumored that the team had offers for Gutierrez from South American clubs over the winter transfer window and turned them down, with Vanni Sartini indicating he was open to granting him more playing time.

Instead, the preseason saw a heavy dose of Luis Martins and Guti remained on the outside looking in. That’s frustrating because it seems as if Guti is the type of player who would have done well in the role Sartini is asking of his left backs this season.

But the real frustration is that Guti is joining the long line of players who are departing the team without a transfer fee, marking either a big loss for the team or a missed opportunity to cash in on a guy they played little to nothing for (Guti falls into this category).

Thinking of guys like Lucas Cavallini and Janio Bikel, who also departed on frees or were released after multimillion dollar fees, this is a concerning trend that speaks to how little long-term planning there has been.

In some cases, the club has little leverage to move a guy on for a fee and you just have to eat it. That’s normal and happens to basically every club in the world at one point or another. No one, for instance, was going to pay for Leo Owusu.

But consistently losing players in this manner is not just a financial money pit. It creates a significant disincentive to spend on future players who could be of value, just because ownership is worried about past financial stewardship.

Moreover, at a time when MLS teams have cashed in on a monster rise in player sales abroad (a trend the Caps ironically jump-started), the team appears to be headed in the other direction.

There are some guys (Pedro Vite, potentially Deiber Caicedo) who I could see the Caps moving on for a substantial fee, if things cut right. But there are others that seem like they will move on and continue that trend when their contract runs down, notably Julian Gressel.

Is this a front office problem for not pulling the trigger when good offers come in? Is it a manager problem for not effectively deploying the players they have, thus leaving them in a position where members of the squad have little value? Probably a bit of both.

But in Guti’s situation in particular, there is little doubt the Caps have played themselves. I’ve heard various theories about why Guti disrespected the club or got a raw deal. But to oscillate between banishing him or seeming to welcome him back into the fold did everyone a disservice. To lose him to another MLS club is doubly annoying (though it does mean the team has moved on his cap hit).

Shameless Self Promotion

For more on the Caps’ adventure in Honduras, we have a recap if you were working during the match. And we also run down how the depth players fared in their first big test.

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