Coffee with the Caps, Monday June 12

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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7 thoughts on “Coffee with the Caps, Monday June 12

  1. For investing in a Vancouver franchise in MLS in 2011 for $40 Million USD, i can surmise that with all the future franchise fees for the next 18 teams (the franchise fees for the last 2 expansion teams- Charlotte and San Diego at $825 million- netted over $14 million as the Cap share), the Apple streaming contract ($2.5 billion over 10 years which should net the owners at least $4 mill/year for 10 years), the profits from SUM (Soccer United Marketing, established by MLS) such as media rights to national team games and the World Cup, plus, plus plus, the Cap owners have netted in the area of $400-500 million – so even if the organization is loosing money on the team (lets say $4 million/year for 11 years), they are making far more with all of the cash flow listed above, and i am probably missing other types of profits

    keep in mind that MLS keeps 51% of profits from all products and the owners get 49% divided up equally amongst the other teams- for charlotte at $325 million and San Diego at $500 million, MLS keeps 51% or $420 million and the remaining $405 million is divided equally to the other 28-29 teams, so the Cap owners will pocket about $14 million- do the same for the other expansion teams over the years and it will be in the $90 million range… and thats just for expansion profits

    bottom line- the Cap owners will NOT sell the franchise with this money coming into their pockets

  2. the present Cap owners only think of 1 thing- MONEY- so with more expansion money coming (i am sure it will go to 36 teams), the new media rights, the coming World Cup in 2026, the Messi effect which will draw more corporate sponsors, there is absolutely NO WAY, the present group of 4 owners will vacate the Vancouver market- their greedy little hands could care less about the product on the field or the loss of thousands of supporters (and this is a good Caps team and deserves much more attention)

    i doubt even 10 supporters can name the 4 Whitecap owners – we are stuck with them- and they all line their pockets- deflating the market doesnt really matter to them … and this is a very good soccer market

    your analysis of this is 100% spot-on and i am happy you have the courage to tell it like it is– the rest of the Vancouver media could care less and will not say anything derogatory about the Ownership group that has made the Caps the second worse franchise in MLS

    and you are not being cynical- you are speaking the truth

  3. Further to your article today…….is it possible that MLS/Apple could persuade the clubs with low attendances to move to another Cities in US? {OR COULD A BUYER FOR THE WHITECAPS BE FOUND?}

    1. On the first part of your comment, not a chance. Leagues generally hate relocation because it takes expansion money off the table. Given what an MLS expansion fee stands at now, the MLS will fight any potential relocation tooth and nail. Apple is irrelevant to the conversation (and in fact, probably doesn’t want any Canadian teams to move).

      As for your second point? Who has $400 – $500 million (USD) to pay for the Whitecaps who would actually be better owners and who have shown any interest? Would Frank Guistra, or Bob Gaglardi, or Brandt Louie be better owners? Maybe … would Aquilini or Chip Wilson? Hell no … you’re dealing with a very small pool of people have the money and none have shown the actual commitment to soccer that Kerfoot has. Maybe if Amar Doman was as much of a soccer fan as a CFL fan, but he has his hands full right now anyway.

  4. I was talking to my daughter who takes me to the odd game about the Caps attendance and lack of it. She said the price of single game tickets has gone up by about 15$ this season. I’d suggest that’s probably the main reason for poor attendance. I’d say this is the best Caps MLS team ever, playing some very entertaining soccer. But not taking away from the Davies games where he was worth the price of admission alone. BTW, we both thought it was an excellent game. Both teams gave it 100%, with both teams being able to rotate some fresh legs into the lineups. Consider the Caps didn’t start, arguably, their best 3 players: Gauld, Blackmon and Gressel and I can see how much depth this team has now. My daughter was at the game, I watched on TV. I just didn’t see the tiredness or fatigue in this game….

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