Coffee with the Caps, Monday July 19

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a lovely and relaxing weekend. If you happen to be a U.S.-based reader, I hope you’re reflecting on the legacy of Juneteenth today in America; if you’re Canadian, I hope you’re having a great Monday.

The main event for soccer fans of both countries was not the relatively paltry MLS slate but rather the Nations League final Sunday night between the U.S. and Canada, with the Americans getting the better of their northern rivals 2-0.

As a USMNT fan, I have to say, the notion of going toe-to-toe with the pace of Canada sans Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest, who were both dismissed during the bruising semi-final clash with Mexico, left me pessimistic about this match.

But the U.S. had a good enough defensive performance to cope, with Joe Scally and Brendon Aaronson stepping in admirably. Canada certainly had their chances (and overwhelmed the U.S. at times, to be sure) but there wasn’t enough end product and often was one too many passes or touches in the box to cause bright moments and good opportunities to pass them by.

The Nations League is a bit of a Mickey Mouse tournament but, naturally, when you haven’t won a trophy in decades, to come up short is rather disappointing. Canadian fans will probably be asking questions about the team’s setup to start the match and why reinforcements, notably in the form of Tajon Buchannan, were not brought on sooner, as a goal in the early stages of the second half would have really changed the trajectory of the game.

Attention for the Canadians will now shift to the eminently winnable Gold Cup, with both the U.S. and Mexico bringing heavily rotated squads. Canada isn’t an exception, with Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Cyle Larin and friends staying at home.

This is still a pretty strong side, however. Much of the defensive backbone from the Nations League was selected, as was Stephen Eustaquio, Jonathan Osorio, Lucas Cavallini and Junior Hoilett.

And it will be a glimpse at a handful of young players. Most notably for Caps fans that includes Ali Ahmed’s first call-up — a good sign both for a speedy return to the Caps lineup but also a fitting reward for an impressive season. Jacen Russell-Rowe also gets his first call-up and both Ahmed and Victor Loturi seem to have a pretty clear pathway to minutes at midfield.

The expectations for Canada with this lineup seem clear: finals or bust. Canada is in what is seemingly the softest group, with Guatemala, Cuba and either Guadeloupe or Guyana making for plenty of opportunities for rotation and a chance to get the younger players’ feet wet.

Winning the group could mean a path of Jamaica and Mexico to the finals but the Mexicans are in a bit of an existential tailspin at the moment, opening this tournament up a bit more than usual. That raises the stakes for Canada but this is seemingly a squad that could rise to the occasion.

Best of the Rest

The Whitecaps 2 side fell to Minnesota United’s reserves 2-0 Sunday afternoon in an unfortunate sign of what was to come in the Nations League

Atiba Hutchinson will retire after the Nations League final, marking the end of the national team road for a Canadian legend

Inter Miami are said to be signing Sergio Busquets on a two-year deal, adding another aging legend to their side. In 98 degree heat in August, what could go wrong?

A look at what comes next for the MLS Players’ Association in a post-Messi world

6 thoughts on “Coffee with the Caps, Monday July 19

  1. Consensus across CONCACAF during WCQ was that Herdman outcoached all comers. Mexican press and twitter said it, US press and twitter said it, Canadians seemed to agree. People have already forgotten that this team was picked to fight for third place and way overachieved. Perhaps, as a team, and Herdman personally, too, they’ve dipped back towards the mean.

    Borjan might have stopped that first goal, sure. But didn’t Tyler make an absolute hash of Larin’s goal in Hamilton? Things come around and chance evens out over time.

    Herdman is right that the mean has to be lifted to ensure future success. You don’t think another week of training might have helped the CB’s deal with corners? Perhaps not, depending upon how you coach and who’s paying attention but would you not want to at least meet the standards of your competitors?

    KJ is a smart enough journalist to know a story needs an arc. He laid down a marker for his next narrative arc and fair play to him. Reality is far more complex and both “sense” and “nonsense” play a part in it.

    If de Vos and the CSA had a single clue how to run a federation and seriously wanted to win that game and cup as they claimed, they would have allowed Herdman’s contract to expire, paid millions to an arm’s length third person consultant to scour the globe and recommend a new manager, dithered for six months and then rehired him! Imagine the performance levels that team could have hit under their second interim manager!

  2. I think what’s missing here is the USA is ranked 13th and we’re 47th. That’s quite a gap. It was the case in Qatar as well. I don’t think our ranking will move much unless 2 or 3 young, top tier players come to the team. It was fantastic to see the CMNT finally start to play in 2019-2022 but remember we were playing some very weak teams. Don’t know if a new coach could accomplish much more given the team doesn’t really train that often together. Hopefully we can properly prepare for the South American Championship in 2024. That is going to be a stiff test. The USA came to play yesterday and they’re a fine team. Our players struggled somewhat and Davies had his worst game in the Canada shirt. Our attacks down the flanks, sometimes our best weapon, was non existent. We didn’t do much in the final 1/3. Interesting that we had 64% possession yet we were outplayed. One Soccer’s KJ rant post game was brutal. Him saying that Borjan should have saved the 1st goal. That was so wrong. I doubt anyone from the CMNT will ever speak to him again. That USA set piece corner kick goal was pretty sneaky. Notice how Johnston was hit from behind just before he was about to jump. That’s why he lost his mark. We should have had a free kick, IMO

  3. Hey, what’s your guys plan for monetization of this site? Obviously the old site had ads and the lack of them here is nice… But at the same time I assume this is a significant time investment and I’d prefer that you guys keep making it, so I’d hope you’re getting compensated for it somehow… and I’ve noticed that there have been a few of your “regular” columns which have occasionally been missed, I’m not sure if that’s because of the lack of compensation… Do you plan to add ads at some point or do you have anything else planned that you can share?

  4. Kristian Jack post-game comments last night… and his analysis is spot-on- while he doesnt outright say it, he is laying a major part of the blame for the poor performance at the feet of the head coach, john herdman

    worth a listen

  5. 2 thoughts for the ages:

    1. after watching head coach, john herdman, make poor critical game decisions in Qatar and then last night, i am of the persuasion that the Mens team have hit a ceiling with his coaching- his inability to reflect and change his game choices are a major concern for me — there is lot more to say on this topic, but that is for another day

    to go further i think the Mens team needs a more experienced head coach to take us to the next level with this talented team

    2. why didnt atiba hutchinson get on the field as a send-off to his tremendous career ? IMO, he deserved to play at least 20 minutes – DISAPPOINTED THAT IT DIDNT HAPPEN

    1. I doubt Atiba would have wanted to come into this game for 20. The team wasn’t playing well and it would have been a sad send off for the great player.

Join the Conversation!