Coffee with the Caps, Monday January 30
Good Monday morning Caps fans. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend — it was a cold one in our neck of the woods, all the better for resting, spending time with friends and writing this column.
We got a bit of unsurprising news on Friday, with Florian Jungwirth announcing his retirement from football. After a difficult year for Flo, many wondered if this was coming.
Forever a part of the Whitecaps family. Following an incredible 15-year professional career, ‘Caps defender Florian Jungwirth announces his retirement. Congratulations Flo #VWFCpic.twitter.com/SZvj7Hl8XG— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) January 27, 2023
While Jungwirth looked off the pace in his lone full season in Vancouver, his demeanor and presence was always that of a professional, making the news that he will be retained as a coach all the more welcome.
Indeed, it speaks to Jungwirth’s stature within the club that he will skip the seemingly obligatory stint in the youth ranks as a coach and move right into work as a first team assistant with the defenders.
The move makes all the sense in the world — he is a known and respected face. And, lest we forget, he was a vital cog in transforming the 2021 Caps from a bottom-dweller into a playoff team. And, as anyone who played the San Jose Earthquakes in the previous years, he tough as nails demeanor and physicality were hallmarks of a distinguished MLS career.
So, congrats to Flo on a well-earned retirement. It’ll be good having you stick around Vancouver a little longer.
Meanwhile, the Caps efforts to bring in new reinforcements continue to be dealt blows.
That Pablo Insua fellow we chatted about on Friday? Sporting Gijon don’t want to let him go in the winter window. Same for Wolfsberger AC, who are hanging tight to Caps target Tai Baribo.
Meanwhile, Alberth Ellis, who fans have tried to will to Vancouver, might not be headed to MLS at all.
All the while, the season inches closer to starting and Vanni Sartini is already clinging to that classic copium of “well, they’re almost like a new signing.”
Vanni: “At the moment we have only Mathias Laborda as a new arrival, but I think it’s wrong to say like this. We actually have 3 or 4 new players, because we have Julian, Schöpf, and Cubas too.” #VWFCpic.twitter.com/ao14szym5p— ☠️ ☠️ (@GlassCityFC) January 27, 2023
I would be less worried if we didn’t see a similar pattern play out last offseason. The Caps had a clear need and did little to address it until the summer window. That move was the right one, a signing that transformed the team, but it came so late in the game that it was not enough to dig out from a bad half-season.
This team is in need of reinforcements now, not in the summer. And I trust the front office brass have seen how the last two seasons have played out and understand that. With an aging core of players, you can’t keep waiting around to make moves — you need to put together strong seasons from start to finish.
Presumably there are other targets, particularly at striker, where interest in Baribo seemed to be tempered because they were kicking the tires elsewhere.
But given the intricacies of bedding in a new signing, let us hope there is more to report when we all come back here Friday to reconvene.
The Caps head to Palm Springs on Thursday and there are as many questions about the squad as ever. Sadly, this is such a familiar situation for fans that we aren’t intimidated by it. Let’s hope we aren’t watching a Groundhog Day-like repeat of the last two offseasons.
Shameless Self Promotion
Lots of Caps fans want to nab Ellis from Bordeaux — but Caleb Wilkins makes a compelling case that it might not really be the right move
Best of the Rest
A bit more on the Caps’ backline situation heading into the final stretch of preseason
The U.S. and perhaps other North American countries will host the 2024 Copa America, with a helping of CONCACAF sides (likely including Canada) to appear
That will also mean the women’s version of the Gold Cupwill feature four South American sides
Cyle Larin’s tenure at Real Valladolid is off to a flying start, as he nabbed a 90th minute winner on Sunday against Valencia