Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a relaxing weekend and that the vibes for you were as good as they were on the pitch Saturday night.
Indeed, the 2-0 triumph over Seattle on Saturday night was perhaps Vancouver’s finest performance of the season to date, as they just absolutely worked the Sounders in a match that could have ended 5 or 6-nil.
While, yes, it must be said that Seattle are in a rocky run of form at the moment (ending the weekend out of first place for the first time since the early days of the season), this shouldn’t take anything away from the Caps.
Vanni Sartini deserves credit for a pair of slight changes after the midweek disappointment in Dallas. For one, he realized the errors of his ways and returned Mathias Laborda and Javain Brown to their natural positions, a move that gave them better organization, and Laborda was quite good back at right center back.
And Sartini installed Sebastian Berhalter alongside Andres Cubas in central midfield, adding a bit more solidity and control in midfield that helped frustrate Seattle and force a few turnovers (which the Sounders were only too happy to oblige). Berhalter has been in decent form but has struggled for minutes — the success of this move is perhaps a blueprint ahead of future tough matches, such as the trip to St. Louis that looms next weekend. His presence on the pitch allows Cubas to be more aggressive in playing higher up the pitch to apply pressure to Seattle’s midfield, without worrying that such a move will expose the backline (as it has a couple times recently).
Ryan Gauld was once again scintillating and (we think?) broke his duck, a move that will likely see the goals start to flow more freely. And Luis Martins had his best match of the year right when the Caps needed it most.
This is peak MLS for you — after a pair of lackluster losses, Vancouver pulls us back in. And, really, the Seattle result last night has been more typical than the most recent, dismal performances in Portland and Dallas.
While the Caps have only a few more points than they did last year at this time, it has been the manner of achieving those points that makes these performances feel more sustainable, like a vaulting board to greater heights rather than an aimless, directionless morass.
Writing this might be tempting fate ahead of (gulp) a Voyageurs Cup tilt against Pacific but the underlying data supports this.
— Caleb Wilkins (@wilkins_caleb24) May 21, 2023
The Caps certainly have a big week — the aforementioned match against Pacific is to secure a second straight spot in the Voyageurs Cup final. And then they have a big trip to St. Louis, quickly becoming one of the toughest away environments in MLS, against a City side that just battered rival Sporting Kansas City to get their form back on track.
But after that, the Caps get three straight matches at home, two of which come against teams below them in the table. 5th through 11th in the West is currently a bit of a logjam but a couple more strong performances in the next month could see the Caps really start to break through as we enter the dog days of summer.
Best of the Rest
A goal from Kamron Habibullah lifted the Whitecaps 2 over Tacoma Defiance on Sunday, ending the opposition’s four-game unbeaten streak
Things are going increasingly sideways at Toronto FC, as its star players are starting to grumble
Aidan Morris, who has started strong for Columbus early in the season, is eyeing a potential switch to the Canadian National Team
Speaking of Morris, the first rosters for the Nations League finals later this summer include a few Whitecaps, including Ali Ahmed