Coffee with the Caps, Friday January 27


Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope your week has gone well and that a well-deserved break is coming up soon.

Another week down, with Vancouver heading to the desert to continue their prep for the upcoming season next week.

In the meantime, transfer rumblings have continued apace. We noted Monday that ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle (generally a very reliable source) was reporting that the Caps had tendered a bid for the services of Yohei Takaoka, goalkeeper for the Yokohama Marinos in the J League, who just won the league last season, in no small part due to Takaoka’s leaderhip.

Indeed, Takaoka was, by all accounts, the top goalkeeper in the league last season and seems to have the makings of a credible MLS starter, who represents (in my mind) a clear upgrade on Thomas Hasal.

Last season, Takaoka conceded 35 goals in 34 games; Hasal, by context, had 27 goals against in 17 matches. These are obviously not like for like situations but it does seem to be a favorable circumstance (Takaoka’s favorable comparison also holds up when you factor in expected goals faced).

There has been an odd criticism of Takaoka going around that he is “too short.” While the interwebs says he is 6 feet tall, it seems this is perhaps being a bit generous. Nonetheless, Maxime Crepeau was not a hulking giant and he worked out pretty well. In fact, the last Caps keeper I remember with truly remarkable size was David Ousted.

If height truly were an impediment, Takaoka would not have made it to this level and his team of the season performance in Japan last year would seem to give a much stronger datapoint in favor of him representing a marked upgrade on the Caps’ current options in net. I will be keeping my fingers firmly crossed that this one gets across the line.

Meanwhile, media reports in Spain indicate Vancouver is interested in Sporting Gijon centerback Pablo Insua.

Insua is another guy who overlapped with Axel Schuster at Schalke, so this seems too logical to be made up. And it seems like he’s been decent for Gijon this season, as they tread water in the midtable of La Liga 2.

Insua’s profile strikes me as a guy who is a strong defender one v. one and is really tough to get past. Asking him to pick out a pass might be a bit of a bridge too far but he seems like a physical guy who can really defend.

At 29 years of age, he is basically in his prime as a CB, though the re-sale value would be virtually nil.

The real question that is opened up here is why the Caps are going after another CB who is a) not domestic and b) right-footed. Depth will be needed this season but it is hard to see Insua breaking into a Tristan Blackmon/Ranko Veselinovic/Mathias Laborda back three. Given that, why bail on being a regular for Gijon (aside, I suppose from money and the vibes of working with Axel Schuster again).

Daniel Krutzen, who the Caps were reportedly kicking the tires on, will be headed to Phoenix Rising in the USL, so perhaps this rumor is a response to that. Perhaps one of their other CBs is on the way out the door (which would be a real disappointment).

But absent an outgoing player, I don’t really see the point of this. If you were going to bring in another CB, make them left-footed (the Caps really seem like they’re purposefully trying to see if you can roll with a centerback room of just right-footed players). But even if Insua were left-footed, he doesn’t strike me as a guy that would be a slam-dunk, must sign kind of player worth the international spot.

Maybe Axel Schuster has some super secret intel from his Schalke days. But going for a guy just because you knew him way back when doesn’t seem like the wisest transfer strategy.

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