Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a lovely week and are gearing up for a well-deserved break. The weather has moved decidedly towards summer here but hopefully where you are things are still temperate and prime for some outdoor activities.
The Caps took care of business in the midweek, beating York United 4-1 to begin their defense of the Voyageurs Cup in relative comfort. No goals in the first half led to some anxiety but then the floodgates opened in the second and, all things considered, I thought this was a decent performance.
You have to factor in that the team basically had to fly cross country, cobble together a rotated team and try and figure things out somewhat on the fly. Given that, I thought the whole endeavor went pretty well. Sebastian Berhalter and Mathias Laborda looked good in the minutes they got, Simon Becher recovered well from a slow start to be a team leader and any anxiety quickly disappeared in the second half.
I do think it is worthwhile to shoutout Levonte Johnson, who was called up on a short term deal from the Whitecaps 2 side to help fill out the bench in light of Brian White’s injury and an apparent desire to keep Sergio Cordova grounded in British Columbia.
Johnson stepped up and seized the opportunity, however, making his debut in the second half and combining with Pedro Vite on a beautifully worked goal, with Johnson doing most of the heavy lifting to make a strong run that ended with a extremely well taken finish. His movement more generally in the match seemed very good as well but the goal was the real highlight here.
Johnson’s Canadian nationality and his fine goalscoring record at Syracuse University made him a savvy pickup in the SuperDraft and I think there was some cautious optimism that he could become something more than filler on the reserve side.
Three goals in six appearances is a pretty good track record, though, as Caleb Wilkins has noted in his Thundercaps 2.0 coverage, you would need to see him distinguish himself with the reserves before a promotion is in store.
But Becher has proven that the Caps have a decent eye for this sort of thing and are perfectly willing to let a cup of coffee with the senior squad lead to a long-term foothold with the first team. Indeed, Becher went from a largely unheralded draft pick to a curiosity to a promising prospect and I’ve not seen anything thus far (admittedly early) to suggest Johnson couldn’t have the same trajectory.
Ultimately, more data is probably needed in MLS NEXT Pro to render a fair verdict. And given the Caps’ logjam at striker, it is tough to see how Johnson would get consistent playing time in MLS barring further injury (which isn’t out of the question and is how Becher wiggled into the mix last season).
But given what we saw out of Johnson on Wednesday night, I think I speak on behalf of many fans when I say I would like to see more. Perhaps Becher has spoiled us but Johnson clearly has the capacity to do things that solid MLS strikers ought to do. It would be great to continue to see if he can hang with the first team in the long run.
Shameless Self Promotion
Our joint match recap/player assessment from Wednesday’s Voyageurs Cup win gets you up to speed if you missed the match. Meanwhile, Caleb dives into who has impressed in the Whitecaps 2 squad so far this season.
Best of the Rest
On the other side of the Canadian Championship bracket, CF Montreal beat Toronto FC on the pitch and an ugly brawl marred the off the pitch action and led to the visiting fans being booted out of Stade Saputo for the weekend fixture.
The Rapids’ Max Alves has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into a Brazilian match fixing scandal, where it is alleged he bet on himself to get a yellow card
Two teams became the first to sack their manages, with the New York Red Bulls agreeing to part ways with Gerhard Struber and the Chicago Fire letting Ezra Hendrickson go.
The likely addition of an MLS team in San Diego will mean a turf battle with existing USL side San Diego Loyal