Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a relaxing weekend and are getting back in the groove ahead of whatever this week has in store.
In my non-soccer life, I am also a journalist and there exists a concept of the Friday afternoon news dump. The Caps over the years have become experts at burying bad news on Friday and, well, they got another whopper in this week.
Nikos Overheul departed the Caps as head of player recruitment on Friday, a move that was apparently mutual in nature and, almost certainly, was not unrelated to the anemic start to the season in Vancouver.
Overheul came in with a much ballyhooed series of successes in Europe on the backs of his embrace of analytics and his arrival was considered a potentially watershed moment.
A look at the Caps’ recruitment before Overheul is comical to look at and underscores how big of a deal his arrival was.
I just want to remind everyone that the season before Overhuel came in the Whitecaps spent about 11 million (according to Transfermarkt). Except for Veslinovic, all of those players have since walked for free and were mostly massive anchors on the team. pic.twitter.com/hHE6khASo3— Caleb Wilkins (@wilkins_caleb24) March 24, 2023
Aside from the fun of being reminded that David Milinkovic is a thing that happened, this is a bit painful to look at. Ranko, Raposo (which doesn’t really count as it came in the SuperDraft) and, arguably, Tos Ricketts (for the money) were successes. Everything else? Meh.
Overheul has not obviously nailed on everything but his moves have been a massive upgrade and have pointed in a clear direction of being competitive now. That hasn’t come together on the pitch but I don’t think anyone would really blame that on player recruitment.
Indeed, at a point where the Caps are increasingly behind the eight ball about what will happen with their manager, they now will be reshaping their brain trust from top to bottom. This seemingly will signal a return to the pre-Overheul recruitment strategy and/or spending less money on transfer fees.
Not that the notion of dumping more money down the drain on transfer fees is all that attractive when the club has been unable to recoup any of them, but shopping in the bargain bin without much of a concerted strategy in order to find market inefficiencies is begging for more Milinkovics.
On the pitch, things were somewhat less dire. After a match where the Caps created more chances than Minnesota United, it was talisman Simon Becher who nabbed the late, late equalizer to help escape St. Paul with a point.
Becher has looked like a legitimate, bona fide striker option in preseason and his penchant for scoring big goals is starting to exit “fluke” category. Given the well-documented (by last Friday’s column anyway) striker dilemma and that’s a good thing.
Brian White and Pedro Vite had good moments as well (I feel bad for the hate that nice guy Cristian Dajome is getting but how isn’t Vite starting?) and the midfield looked solid even without Ryan Gauld. Shoutout to Ali Ahmed, who keeps getting looks off the bench and making the most of them.
A 1-1 draw isn’t going to really move the needle much, though the Caps are at least stringing together some results. A win, however, is a must, otherwise they really will find themselves up against it. what better way to do that than against our French Canadian friends next week.
Shameless Self Promotion
Luis looks at some of the silver linings from Saturday’s draw in the post match recap.
Best of the Rest
Shoutout to the Whitecaps 2 side, who only needed one match to get their first win of the season. Antonie Coupeland and Kam Habibullah netted in the 2-1 win.
Jonathan David and Cyle Larin continued their good form, lifting Canada to a 2-0 win over Curacao in the Nations League
A peak at Vancouver FC’s kits to start their CPL existence
The ongoing FIFA window made for some, erm, interesting results in Matchday 5 of MLS