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Coffee with the Caps, Monday March 6

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are well-rested and heading into March with a bit of a spring in your step.

The Caps were unlikely to be responsible for that spring, however, duplicating their week one performance with a near-identical second act on Saturday against San Jose. After a positive first half hour that produced a 1-0 lead, you could see the match slip away from them in real time.

Whereas Vancouver was aggressive and looking to press and force San Jose to play out of the back in the first half, as the game progressed they just ceded more and more of the midfield territory to the Quakes. By the time Carlos Akapo grabbed what would be the winner, they were passively allowing San Jose to impose themselves on the midfield.

Matters were not helped by some defensive frustrations, with Luis Martins again driving the struggle bus at left back. The Caps are able to dominate the midfield for a period of time and then become the victim of their own success, as the opponent bypasses the midfield and plays largely unbeatable balls over the top along the flanks, particularly the left side.

And while Julian Gressel turned in a man-of-the-match performance, Ryan Gauld and Brian White were quiet. Despite popular support for the idea, Sergio Cordova started on the bench and only entered the match once the attack had begun to fizzle. While some of his decision-making leaves something to be desired, I thought he showed a spark and surely will start one of the next two matches.

Despite vowing to avoid the catastrophic 2022 start that left them in a hole, the Caps have been seemingly doing their best to duplicate it. The season is young but both San Jose and Real Salt Lake will likely be foes for the final playoff spots and those are points you would like to have back, particularly as the team had the high ground of a winning position and lost it.

How much of this is the personnel and how much of it is the manager? There certainly are some issues with both, and hopefully Sartini will be wise to tap Ali Ahmed for a start sometime in the near future, as Martins has seemingly not been a good fit for what the 4-3-2-1 asks of its fullbacks.

The midweek will give a chance for a tune up, with Real Espana coming to town on the heels of a 3-0 battering over the weekend. Central American teams don’t back down and the Caps will be looking to avoid being that MLS team that semi-regularly embarrasses themselves in the CONCACAF Champions League.

At the same time, the novelty of continental play returning to BC Place will be good funand will hopefully allow the doldrums of a poor start to be forgotten.

Who starts will be interesting, as Andres Cubas went all 90 minutes on Saturday, as did Ryan Gauld. A win at BC Place is vital to avoid having to get a result in Honduras but you have to think that this will be a chance to glimpse Ahmed and/or Ryan Raposo, Sebastian Berhalter and others for their first real look this season.

Depth remains a tricky thing for the Caps, as I don’t think this team is built to play well without Cubas and Gressel/Gauld in the midfield. But with a real need to get points off of FC Dallas in the weekend, Sartini will have some fascinating choices.

Shameless Self Promotion

Saturday’s difficulties were in full display in our post-match, where Caleb breaks down the similarities between the two losses. Meanwhile, the report card was again dispiriting.

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