Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all have had a quiet and pleasant week and that the weekend will bring more of the same.
Quiet is certainly how I would describe the international break — it has been almost too quiet, what with only a few MLS teams playing through the international break. I know the folks at The Third Sub are anxious to get back with it but we’ll have some fresh #content to come over the week ahead.
With some time to get caught up on my favorite MLS podcasts and writers after moving, I’ve been marinating on the question of where Ryan Gauld falls in the MVP conversation.
Make no mistake, Gauld would need a herculean finish to unseat Luciano Acosta, who neatly fits the category of “best player on the Supporters’ Shield winner” title and would be a deserved MVP winner. If he doesn’t get it, Thiago Almada seems a likely alternative.
But Gauld is deserving of being in the mix as well, I believe. If you look at expected goals and assists, he is in the top ten in both categories right alongside guys who are in the MVP conversation. The only guy in the league with a combined xG and xA that is higher is Hany Muhktar (who honestly could be the MVP every year, given his importance to Nashville and their style of play).
He is similarly elite when it comes to points added, expected points added, expected passing (the nifty metric devised by American Soccer Analysis to measure the expected odds of success for every pass) and basically any other metrics you’d want to use.
Basically Gauld’s only limiting factor are the reality that he can disappear for an odd game or two and the fact that the team is in the middle of the playoff mix, rather than sitting on top of the heap.
Caps fans surely do not need to be convinced of any of this, to be sure (though the more self loathing among us should take notice that a bona fide star is plying their trade in Vancouver). But it has been heartening to see Gauld being hailed as one of the elite creative players in the league by national pundits. This type of validation shouldn’t be necessary but Gauld deserves recognition beyond the Pacific Northwest. It is rare that the Caps have had an MVP quality player on their roster (perhaps Pedro Morales can be the only non-Camillo player to lay claim to this mantle). Gauld has had a couple of seasons worthy of this label, none more so than the 2023 campaign. If results keep coming, hopefully that recognition can break through the Messi-mania and resonate with fans and journalists leaguewide.
Shameless Self Promotion
As we take a bit of a breath, our podcast evaluates the last week in Caps-land, plus the home stretch of the CPL season.
Best of the Rest
A look at how the Southsiders’ representatives celebrated the Caps’ unique clinching of the Cascadia Cup
The lowly Rapids have sacked Robin Fraser as thr club sits bottom of the west
Developers have reportedly paused a planned soccer specific stadium in Saskatoon
Caden Clark is back in MLS, this time with Minnesota United. Because it’s after the transfer window slammed shut, however, he’ll have to head to Denmark.