Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are gearing up for a pleasant weekend with family, friends and maybe, just maybe a side dose of football.
The midweek brought little joy, as the Caps squandered a gift of an early lead to fall 2-1 to FC Dallas in Frisco. The Caps have had a disproportionate amount of success in north Texas over the years but put forth a pretty miserable display on Wednesday.
Poor defensive organization and defenders being caught on the ball, midfielders losing runners and not winning second balls, Julian Gressel getting minimal touches until the end of the match … the list of shortcomings goes on and on. Things did turn around somewhat late but it was too little at that point to change the ultimate direction of the match.
On the whole, I am choosing not to freak out. The Caps are almost out of the woods on their tougher stretch of matches and will get a whole batch of home games to boot. Moreover, in past seasons, Wednesday night’s performance was the norm, what we were getting on a night in and night out basis. Hopefully this year it is the anomaly.
Meanwhile, in a somewhat related development, the first of the annual salary dumps by the MLS Players Association is out and being scrutinized by fans, reporters and, well, basically anyone with an internet connection and a passing interest in the league.
We will move past the first impulse, which is to laugh at Toronto FC being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference despite spending the GDP of a small pacific island nation on salary. Instead, we’ll focus on the Caps.
There aren’t a ton of surprises here, nor are there any egregiously high salaries or shockingly good bargains, particularly after Christian Dajome was moved on to DC United.
Much of the conversation Online TM was about Mathias Laborda pulling down over $800,000 and not being a starter. I’m not as concerned by this and thought Laborda had a decent, if inconsistent, performance on Wednesday. He made several nice defensive plays but also got caught out of position a fair amount, something which I believe would have been rectified had he been playing in his natural RCB position.
Depth is something the Caps have lacked in recent years, particularly at centerback. Paying that much for depth is certainly something you can criticize and I would imagine neither Laborda nor the Caps expected him to be a depth piece. But I also don’t think you could displace Ranko Veselinovic or Tristan Blackmon at the moment so we’re left with this situation, which has plenty of time over the rest of the season to sort itself out.
Probably the biggest thing that stands out for me is Alessandro Schopf, who makes $992,000 and has not yet lived up to that price tag and, after another largely quiet performance on Wednesday, it is baffling how he has not lost his place in the starting XI. I’d love to see Schopf redeem himself but it just hasn’t worked for the guy in MLS to date and this pretty expensive risk has not worked out.
Sergio Cordova was the other eyebrow raiser, making over $1 million as a DP. And, quite simply, he has not performed up to that level, though injuries have made a full verdict on the quality of the signing to be difficult. Wednesday Cordova (like much of the roster, in fairness) was poor and he is still searching for his first MLS goal of the year. I liked what I saw out of Cordova against Portland and am not giving up hope yet but for a guy getting paid this much, you need him to be scoring goals.
This is particularly true when you look at a guy who is scoring goals: Simon Becher, who is making only $70,000. Ali Ahmed, who disappointingly did not feature Wednesday, makes only $94,000. In case you needed another way of driving home how much of a coup those players have been for the Caps, well, here it is. Other bargains (relative to performance) include Yohei Takaoka ($297k) and Ryan Raposo ($137k).
Shameless Self Promotion
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