Good Monday morning Caps fans — hope your weekend was a good one and that you took the opportunity to get your Halloween costumes all picked out.
Well, we have officially survived the regular season. It feels like just yesterday we were collapsing at home against Real Salt Lake. Time flies if you’re having fun, I suppose, and this was as fun a season as we’ve had in some time.
Hopefully the fun can continue in the postseason, with the Caps getting a bit of deja vu after their 1-1 draw against LAFC on Saturday night when it was revealed they would be running it back against their Southern California rivals in the playoffs.
I always get a bit anxious about playing LAFC (I blame CONCACAF Champions League), even though I think this was a favorable matchup for the Caps. Seattle is in strong form right now and Vancouver can avoid them, as well as Houston, who have been lights out at home (something the Caps are well aware of). They have actually won at BMO Stadium and got a chance to use Saturday night as a way to feel out their opponents.
It wasn’t the sharpest display on Saturday but the Caps mostly were able to blunt the potent attack of LAFC (the away side left a couple good chances on the table, in fairness). They will need to figure out a way around LA’s mid-block come playoff time, which neutralized the Caps’ build-up play.
We’ll all hope Ryan Gauld has gotten his penalty misses out of the way in a largely inconsequential match, with the Scot seeing his perfect PK record ended by Maxime Crepeau and, ultimately, the woodwork. While it would have been a nice win, the loss of three points wouldn’t have done much for the Caps so I don’t think anyone is too bothered about this. Instead, let’s keep our fingers crossed that Gauld’s confidence will rebound in time for the postseason.
Both of those penalties, however, were won by Richie Laryea, who turned in his best performance in a Whitecaps’ jersey, forcing LAFC players into difficult decisions to try and cope with his pace. His connections with Pedro Vite and Ali Ahmed improved over the course of the match, culminating in Laryea feeding Ahmed for the equalizer. Ahmed too was quite good, both defensively and in cutting through the LAFC lines.
And to cap off the good vibes, Vanni Sartini got to take a well-deserved bow when it was announced in the 2nd minute that his contract was being extended for another two years. Friday’s column cheered this move pre-emptively but it was a nice gesture to allow Vanni to get an ovation from a packed BC Place after the work he has done.
Indeed, the crowd on Saturday was excellent and one imagines the chippy, tense game will whet the palate nicely for those in attendance ahead of the playoffs. And we have to remember this is a team that is unbeaten in five matches, despite not playing their best in that stretch.
So kick back, relax and enjoy the wild card round, folks. And steel your nerves for the playoffs — we’ll see you on the other side.
Shameless Self Promotion
We have all the details live from BC Place on the last regular season match of the year.
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