Coffee with the Caps, Monday September 25th

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a pleasant weekend and are mentally prepared to be back at your desks. I’m not quite there yet.

Things didn’t go according to plan on Saturday, as Vancouver threw away another match from a winning position to fall 2-1 to Real Salt Lake. It was a blow to the Caps’ hopes of finishing top four but, with games in hand and a burst of home matches to close the year, probably not a fatal one.

The Caps created plenty of difficulties for themselves in terms of decision making going forward (it is, in fact, OK for guys not named Gauld or White to shoot) and they weren’t helped out by the refs. Vancouver were inches away from getting an equalizer on a chance that I’m pretty sure was a goal but without goal line technology we will never be sure about (side note: how do we not have goal line technology).

Vancouver were denied a penalty quite literally on the stroke of full time for a handball but the more egregious one probably was Tristan Blackmon getting clattered going for the aforementioned chance. Not a case where the refs cost Vancouver the game but it was a pretty frustrating turn of events.

Probably the biggest talking point after the match was Yohei Takaoka, who was very much caught out on the Real equalizer and generally has been treading water since a flying start to the season.

On some level, it probably is best not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here: Yohei Takaoka is a fine keeper. He isn’t at the level of Cody Cropper or Thomas Hasal, which is part of the reason the Caps’ defense has much improved this year. He also probably isn’t at the level of prime Maxime Crepeau either, though let us not forget that Crepeau had some mistakes during his time here as well.

This is all to say that Vancouver probably could improve on Takaoka but also they could easily bring someone new in who is worse. Therefore, it probably isn’t worth worrying about long term. I concede that its concerning that Takaoka has dropped into the bottom third of keepers in goals added (per American Soccer Analysis). But despite Saturday night’s result, I don’t think he is necessarily the thing holding Vancouver back from greatness.

Possibly an issue at play here for the Caps has been a lack of a real dependable backup for Takaoka, who has basically been forced to start every match of consequence this year. The entire squad looked gassed by the end of the Salt Lake match and Takaoka is no exception. Something to monitor with respect to Isaac Boehmer’s development going forward.
The good news for Vancouver is they’re almost home. All that separates them with a return to BC Place is a date with the worst team in MLS, the Colorado Rapids. I’ve been a Caps fan long enough to know how this goes. But given where Vancouver sits in the standings and their recent dip in form, this is pretty much a must win. I think Vanni Sartini will convey that sentiment to the team and, hopefully, the carrot of sleeping in their own beds will get them across the line for one more home match.

Shameless Self Promotion

Luis recaps the second half struggles for the Whitecaps in Utah.

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