The recruitment philosophy and process that netted Déiber Caicedo

Deiber Caicedo - Deportivo Cali

The ’Caps added an important piece to their 2021 puzzle on Tuesday with the acquisition of winger Déiber Caicedo from Colombia’s Categoría Primera A club Deportivo Cali.

With Caicedo, the ’Caps land a young, dynamic 20-year-old who will add a different look to the wing position, which also includes fellow countryman Cristian Dajome and young Canadian Ryan Raposo. Caicedo is quick on the dribble and primarily operates on the left side, however he is also comfortable on the right, and will look to provide service to the ‘Caps strikers in Theo Bair, Lucas Cavallini and Tosaint Ricketts.

How do the ‘Caps zero in on a target like Caicedo, and eventually seal the deal on acquisitions?

Here is a look behind the curtain at the thorough recruitment process that starts from identification to finally putting pen to paper.

Let’s start from the very beginning. CEO and sporting director Axel Schuster, head coach Marc Dos Santos and the rest of the team have a clear understanding of the player profile they are looking to acquire – including position, style of play, age, range for measurables, and tendencies on and off the pitch.

Next, through the club’s team of scouts and analysts they identify potential targets from all over the globe and start to build reports.

“If we are looking for a left-sided winger, we say our main criteria is speed. If the analysts find out he is not fast, we move on because he doesn’t fulfill our main criteria,” explains Schuster. “An attacking midfielder should have good key passes and good assist numbers. That's just some of the characteristics that each profile has.”

If the player ticks all the boxes in the profile, multiple scouts are tasked to study a number of the player’s matches and write up a report.

“If the report reinforces what the stats say about his fit for the profile, then it is up to me to figure out how realistic he is, contract-wise. Is he within a price range that we are open to spending cap-wise?” said Schuster. “How does he fit with our roster situation - international spots, GAM, TAM? Does he fall within the range of requirements for the roster spot we’re trying to fill, like age?”

Once the viability of the roster move is determined, the work is divided into three sub-groups.

Head coach Marc Dos Santos and his staff pore over game film to further study the player’s fit with what they have and with what they’re implementing.

“We have meetings at least twice a week with our entire team, we meet every Monday and Thursday to go over players that we've been watching and discuss details on each of them to make the best decision possible,” said Dos Santos. “This is to limit mistakes and to make sure that we bring the best player possible for the position.”

On another side of the training centre, members of the recruitment department conduct a thorough background analysis. Staff members reach out to the player’s former coaches and teammates. They comb through social media, interviews and articles to do a deep dive on any available information on the player.

Meanwhile, in the medical office, the Performance Strategy, Research, and Innovation group does their own research.

“Our performance team starts looking at the player, performance-wise. How is he recovering? How many sprints does he do? What is his injury history, all of that,” offers Schuster.

If the coaching staff like what they see, and his background and medical are cleared, it is only then that the club reaches out to the player.

“We speak with him to get a good impression, how his situation looks, where we see him, what his options are with our club,” says Schuster, who also brought up the challenge of not being able to spend time in-person with prospective acquisitions during the pandemic.

While the communication lines are now open, a scout who has not been part of the previous analyses is assigned the role of devil’s advocate – his job is to write a report why the ‘Caps should not sign the player.

This is the last piece for the full presentation, allowing the team to consider all points prior to making the decision, including how the prospect stacks up to other comparable players on the roster at the same position.

After everyone has had their say, the ’Caps brain trust finally make their decision on the matter.

“We never rush into decisions because rushed decisions are not good. We want to have well-thought decisions and we have a good group working on that,” said Schuster.

And that’s the work that goes into each acquisition.

Caicedo has gone through the eye of the needle – he fit the profile, and he has ticked all the boxes above and received the thumbs up from both Schuster and Dos Santos.

Now that the ink is dry, the fun really begins as we see what he brings to the pitch.