Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope your weekend was a good one and that the return to your desk isn’t too painful. Perhaps this column will help delay any meaningful work by a couple minutes.
It was a rather tired performance from Vancouver on Saturday night, an understandable development given the onslaught of fixtures recently. Getting a 1-1 draw with FC Cincinnati, who are well on their way to a Supporters’ Shield, is a fine result in that context, particularly given that the away side had the better of the chances and there was a bit of fortune that Matt Miazga lost his head to concede the penalty equalizer.
Now the Caps get a bit of a respite during the international break — while some MLS teams will be playing, Vancouver will be off until June 21, when they take on the Colorado Rapids. A nice break for us both players and bloggers alike.
The fairly straightforward match on Saturday gives us a chance to take a few moments and join basically the entire earthly world in pondering the likely arrival of Lionel Messi to Inter Miami this summer. Instead of blabbering on about the impact this might have on the league as a whole, I’ll focus on what impact it could have on the Whitecaps.
The painful answer to that question is, likely, not much. There is certainly a “rising tide will lift all boats” mindset here and that will take place. More Apple TV subscriptions sold is a good thing for the Caps, as is rising interest from sponsors, casual fans (who might not have given MLS the time of day without the stamp of approval of an aging superstar) and media rights partners.
But the odds of Messi playing at BC Place are only slightly higher than me playing there. Setting aside the fact that only a select few Western Conference teams will win the lottery and draw Inter Miami as a home match (and the Caps have not had this happen yet, putting them on the short list), there is the whole turf situation.
It is possible Vancouver would lay down grass to accommodate Messi in a situation like this and take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. But this is also an organization that periodically lacks the common sense such a move would require — though when it comes to their pocketbooks, perhaps things would be different.
The league is in a far healthier place than it was when David Beckham arrived a decade-and-a-half earlier, maximizing the Messi impact. But it is unclear whether that seismic moment will cause much of a shakeup half a continent away. This is less me doubting the benefits of Messi’s arrival and more skepticism that the Caps are an organization well prepared to take advantage of this moment.
If a team can barely stimulate interest in drawing fans for a cup final, how can we expect them to kick the marketing machine into overdrive to capitalize on the biggest moment in American soccer history? It is possible Messi’s arrival might turn some heads and get some people Googling about their local MLS team but this is a Caps organization that has invested the bare minimum in marketing lately and has very little media coverage locally, meaning it is uncertain what those casual fans really would turn up if they decided to do some research.
Perhaps I’m overly cynical here. We may well all look back a decade from now and see this as a turning point. But Messi cannot be a band aid for this club’s lack of effort in so many other areas and if the Whitecaps are hoping for his arrival to be a panacea, they will sadly be mistaken.
Shameless Self Promotion
More on Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the league leaders at BC Place, including your usual dose of report card grades.
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