Good Monday morning Caps fans. Welp, that was a tough one — hope the rest of your weekend was better before whatever happened on Sunday night.
There will be plenty of #discourse coming out of the Caps’ 1-0 defeat to LAFC, sending them home for the season after a pretty mediocre game from both teams. The thing separating the two sides was a Denis Bouanga penalty, which was the font of most of the #discourse.
Simply put, there is no way Tristan Blackmon and Ranko Veselinovic committed a foul that merited LAFC be awarded a penalty. That was one of the softest penalties you will ever see and it came at a horrible time for the Caps, who started off brightly and were putting a suspect LA backline under duress.
The spot kick very much killed that momentum and gave LAFC probably their best spell of the match before the half. That was probably the most frustrating part of the penalty — it took away the ample confidence the Caps had from the beginning and turned the tide the other way.
The refereeing in general was absolutely atrocious and Vanni Sartini snapped and got sent off after Tim Ford body checked Alessandro Schopf, leading to an LAFC breakway (that was comically called back for offsides). It is a pity that a record crowd at BC Place had to let that buffoonery be perhaps their first taste of MLS. LAFC is good enough — they don’t need some highly questionable calls to go their way to advance.
But it is tough to complain about the refereeing when your side isn’t quite good enough. And while LAFC was there for the taking at times in this series, the gap in quality remained clear. Ryan Gauld and Brian White didn’t show up enough and Denis Bouanga did. The Caps’ defense got found out and LAFC did enough to make sure theirs didn’t. That right there decided the series.
Indicative of the struggles the Caps faced was the decision to sub off Richie Laryea in the 55th minute. That’s a guy Vancouver wants to be its 3rd/4th DP and you’re bringing him off at a crucial juncture for your season. Junior Hoilett came on and didn’t do much. That’s not a great hit ratio for two guys the team was hoping could give them a veteran leadership lift in the postseason (Sam Adekugbe, meanwhile, I thought was quite good. And, in fairness to Laryea, he had a couple dangerous moments).
But, as I said on Twitter, I’m proud to be a fan of this team and you all should be too. The offseason presents a clear opportunity for improvement, particularly with the backline. But the bones of this team are as good as at any point in my time as a fan. Just because Gauld and White didn’t quite click in the playoffs doesn’t change the fact that they both had seasons that will go down in the club’s record books and there are plenty of young players who will keep shining.
Vanni Sartini deserves some scrutiny for this playoff series (and went too far in his criticism of the officiating in his post match comments). But watching him get sent off, only to return the players to the Southsiders to thank the fans for a stupendous turnout confirms that this team has some special vibes. If you need some cheering up after this frustrating playoff roller coaster, just focus on that.
This blog certainly isn’t going anywhere for Silly Season. We hope you won’t be either.
Shameless Self Promotion
Our final post match of the year goes in-depth on how the Caps were knocked out
Best of the Rest
More from Vanni Sartini on [gestures widely] in Sunday’s match
The Caps weren’t the only side to be sent packing in two games — Sporting KC knocked out number one seed St. Louis City shortly before the Caps’ match on Sunday
Elsewhere in Cascadia, the Portland Timbers are reportedly in talks to make Phil Neville their next manager
Meanwhile, the first domino of Silly Season is Luis Suarez will seemingly join Messi in Miami