Vancouver Whitecaps

Coffee with the Caps, Friday February 23

Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are having a good week and are ready to relax this weekend.

Well folks, get your MLS Season Pass logins ready for the official start of the season because, like it or not, it is that time again.

Even better than the start of the regular season (for everyone but the Whitecaps, anyway) is the return of my annual attempt to do the impossible: predict how the season will end up. It leads to such gems as me predicting Dante Vanzeir will win the golden boot. What could go wrong?

This year was tough to predict. On the one hand, you have an uber competitive Eastern Conference. Inter Miami is one of the toughest teams to predict in recent memory. Obviously everyone and their mother is predicting Messi and Friends to win everything under the Florida Sun. On the other, you’re asking for a lot of aging players to hold up in a lot of different competitions to make those dreams come true.

On the flip side, the West is tough to predict. Beyond Seattle, things are a total crapshoot and most every team aside from them and Austin you could tell me will finish 2nd or 11th and I would believe it.

So, here goes.

Eastern Conference

  1. FC Cincinnati
  2. Columbus Crew
  3. Inter Miami
  4. Atlanta United
  5. New England Revolution
  6. Orlando City SC
  7. Philadelphia Union
  8. New York Red Bulls
  9. NYCFC
  10. Chicago Fire 
  11. Nashville SC
  12. Montreal
  13. DC United
  14. Charlotte FC
  15. Toronto FC

Western Conference

  1. Seattle Sounders
  2. FC Dallas
  3. LAFC
  4. Minnesota United
  5. Vancouver Whitecaps
  6. Real Salt Lake
  7. St. Louis City SC
  8. Sporting KC
  9. Colorado Rapids
  10. Houston Dynamo
  11. LA Galaxy
  12. Portland
  13. San Jose Earthquakes
  14. Austin FC

Golden Boot: Cucho Hernandez, Columbus Crew

Goalkeeper of the Year: Daniel, San Jose

Defender of the Year: Jackson Regan, Seattle Sounders

Newcomer of the Year: Luis Suarez, Miami

I struggled with where to put the Caps but “above the playoff line but not a nailed on home playoff team” seems to be a good bet for really any team in the Western Conference. I think the ceiling for Vancouver is anywhere in the home playoff spots (aside from winning the conference) and the floor is probably in the 9th/10th place range. That makes them a lot like anyone else.

Barring an injury crisis or a massive drop off in production from Ryan Gauld and Brian White, this seems like a playoff team. If the new additions stay healthy, Vanni Sartini’s tactical genius clicks and there is a summer signing that takes this team up a level, I think we could be looking at the best Caps team in a long, long time. If one or more of those things don’t happen, well, then it will probably be more of the same.

The Caps did get some disappointing news on Friday, with Richie Laryea officially not returning to Vancouver. That’s not a shock. What did surprise is that he’s headed to MLS, just to his former club Toronto FC, on a permanent transfer.

It is too early to say if this is a case where Vancouver didn’t want to go where Nottingham Forest wanted them to go (problematic) or if it was Laryea who was iffy on returning to the Caps and wanted instead to go to a more comfortable environment, playing for his former national team coach, and that was the final push needed for Vancouver to end their interest. While its a bit of a kick in the teeth to see him go to a rival, presumably the front office has been preparing for this. With Ali Ahmed out for awhile, I still think the two-legged tie against Tigres underscored the need to bring in cover at the wingback position, as neither Luis Martins nor Sebastian Berhalter were great in the game of musical chairs between the right and left wingback spots.

Where did I go wrong? Who do you all see as contenders this season? Tell me why I’m an idiot in the comments below.

Best of the Rest

The experts at MLS also apparently don’t have any idea where to rank the Caps

More on all the drama leading up to the regular season and how it could impact Vancouver

Three newcomers will contest the Canadian Championship, as the Caps hunt for a three-peat

Don Garber claims MLS is ready for a referee lockout. I’ll believe it when I see it

Adding to Soccer Canada’s woes, the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association filed suit against current and former board members

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League Table

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