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Marc Dos Santos named Vancouver Whitecaps head coach

Jun 14, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; San Francisco Deltas head coach Marc Dos Santos before the game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps announced Marc Dos Santos as the club’s new head coach Wednesday morning. 

“We are excited to welcome Marc Dos Santos to our club,” Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi said. “It’s not often that you find a coach who seeks out the unique learning opportunities and challenges that Marc has accumulated around the world. We believe having Marc now in place as head coach, combined with the additional resources we are putting into our scouting and recruitment department, will set up the club for consistent success.”

A native of Montréal, Quebec, the 41-year-old Dos Santos arrives in Vancouver with more than a decade of coaching experience at the professional and amateur levels. Dos Santos has coached in Canada, Portugal, Brazil and the United States and is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. 

In North America, Dos Santos won the 2009 United Soccer League championship with the Montreal Impact and was runner-up with the Ottawa Fury in the 2015 North American Soccer League championship. His biggest achievement, however, was guiding the San Francisco Delta to the 2017 NASL Soccer Bowl championship, even though the club had announced the team would fold at the end of that season.

That success, in particular, caught the attention of newly-created Los Angeles FC and its manager Bob Bradley, who signed dos Santos as an assistant coach ahead of the 2018 MLS season. As part of Bradley’s coaching staff, Dos Santos helped oversee one of the most successful seasons by an MLS expansion team in league history. 

“Whitecaps FC are a club with a rich history, from the NASL days to CSL, USL and now in MLS,” Dos Santos said. “It’s a club with an incredible potential to grow and become an example for others. I believe in the structure the club has and in the passion of the people involved. I look forward to meeting with our supporters and listening to them, sharing in their dreams and ambitions. They are a very big part of what this club is all about, and together we will meet the challenge of becoming a championship calibre club.”

Those supporters have largely been positive about Dos Santos coming in as the new head coach. His time at the Ottawa Fury and later SF Delta highlighted that Dos Santos could be successful with relatively little resources at his disposal — an ability that will be important with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Despite the recent financial windfall from selling Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich, and the club’s promise to reinvest most of that money in new players and infrastructure, Vancouver will likely be in the bottom third in terms of player salaries once again this season – the Caps had the eighth lowest budget in the league last season.

The Whitecaps are unlikely to appoint a general manager to oversee transfers, which means Dos Santos will be in charge of streamlining the current squad. His No. 1 priority during the offseason will likely be to offload players earning top salaries but performing below expectations, such as Brek Shea and Efrain Juarez, and to restructure the deals of players who have performed but are perhaps earning more than what their output justifies, such as Cristian Techera and Kei Kamara.

Then, there is the question of what will happen with the likes of Anthony Blondell and Felipe Martins. Carl Robinson signed both, and both, without a doubt, have performed below their potential.

Finally, how will Dos Santos handle the Kendall Waston situation? The Whitecaps captain announced in October that he would like to leave the club at the end of the season. 

That’s a lot to handle for a new MLS coach, but the Whitecaps are confident they have the right man.

“Marc is a confident, driven leader who has proven himself as a winner at every level he has been tested,” Whitecaps FC co-owner Jeff Mallett said. “We were impressed by his ability to deliver a clear plan that optimizes all of our resources to measurably improve the club in critical areas. Bringing in Marc positions the club to meet our goals of competing regularly with the best in the league and to win trophies for Vancouver’s loyal supporters, starting first and foremost with the MLS Cup.”

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