Marc Dos Santos’ media availability on Monday morning certainly gave some better insight into his vision for the club, where things are no following the Option Deadline, and where things are going. For the full transcript about what’s going on with the Vancouver Whitecaps, from the new manager himself, read on.
You picked up the contract of 7 players, you’ve got 17 on the roster now. Are you getting a better feel for your squad for next year?
MDS: It gives us a better picture of everything. By having made some moves we now know exactly what we need, what we need to do next, um, again we said it from the start there was a lot of good things done here in the past and we want to look at everything in the past carefully but also look at where we want to be in the next few years.
Ok, so looking at the players that still have no contract, Kei Kamara, Sean Franklin, Cristian Techera, Brian Rowe have you reached out to them at all about coming back next year?
MDS: Not yet, no. We haven’t talked to any of them so we’re evaluating all of the physical situations. Some of those players you named also want to look at some possibilities outside of MLS. So, there’s a lot of things happening, you can’t look at players that are not under contract now as players that we don’t want. No we’re evaluating some situations.
Where are you with your captain, I know you said when we chatted with you, that you wanted to speak with him about his thoughts for next year, have you spoken with Kendall Waston?
MDS: Kendall was with the national team, he didn’t have a break really since the end of the season and going with Costa Rica so we want to sit down face to face. You know, you guys are all aware of how he expressed about the future, what he wanted, so this is not a conversation that you have on the phone, this is something you have face to face.
I think a lot of people are a little bit surprised to see that the option wasn’t excercised with Marinovic. Can you talk about the reasoning for that?
MDS: Every decision is about the club, you know, how would I have something personal with any of the players? I’ve never worked with any of them. I look at Vancouver Whitecaps what’s the best for the team, where does the squad want to be in the future? So, we evaluated Stefan very well, his strengths, his weaknesses, what he can bring. We also looked at the other possibilities because before you don’t take the option of someone, you need to be backed up with other things you can do. I think what we’re doing next is also very exciting.
Do you know what are your biggest needs then?
MDS: Everything. You guys look at the roster and you look at the moves that were done at the moment everything is a need. Wingers like Brek Shea, Alphonso Davies, Techera out of contract. So like you expect, it’s a position that we’re looking at also, so there are needs everywhere at the moment.
Are you hopeful that you can bring Kei Kamara back, he’s your leading scorer, he had a huge season offensively compared to some previous years?
MDS: I’m hopeful that this club is going to have the right forward, moving forward with Kei or without Kei.
Would Kendall and Kei fit in with what you want to do with the team going forward?
MDS: In some cases yes, in others no. An example with Kendall, I think he’s going to have to take more risks as a player you know, play higher up the field, and these are all things that we’re going to discuss with him. Kei is Kei, everybody knows him in the league, he’s been in the league a lot. And I think yes, both of them can fit somehow, but it’s not only looking at the player it’s looking at the total package. What they bring in the locker room, how they train, their commitment to the club, everything counts when you’re making a decision on a player. Not only if they score or they don’t. Again, we’re taking the long term interests into account for this club.
Just looking at the goalkeeper situation, Marinovic doesn’t get picked up, neither does Spencer Richey, Sean Melvin does, will he feature more coming into next season or are you still at the point about of maybe looking for a starting goalkeeper to eat up more minutes?
MDS: We’re looking at adding new goalkeepers at the club, this is exactly what we’re doing, so Sean is one of the three or four goalkeepers we would call it, but we’re looking to fill those spots for sure.
All of your Canadian players are under contract, was that a priority when you took the job to keep as many of the homegrown kids around?
MDS: Yes. Part of it yes, but also the quality of the player and what they could bring because honestly, none of the decisions were taken based on whether they’re Canadian or not, so that’s credit to them also.
With any of the players that you didn’t exercise the option for is there a chance that they could come back under a different contract? For example, last year Nico Mezquida didn’t have his picked up but then he re-signed a contract and came back , is there anyone that is still of interest but you would like to have a restructured contract with them?
MDS: At the moment it doesn’t look like that.
How much more have you learned about this club after what we heard at the year end presser and you were hired, how much did you really delve into the locker room with the players and did you learn more about this team?
MDS: Yes, yes, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some players, I’ll keep that confidential, you know, the one on ones. I learned on their side on their perspective, what they liked, what they didn’t like how they feel this club would need to, things that need to become better moving forward for the locker room. Then there’s things that I know players, so I know what they say, and how much I take and what I don’t take but I’ve learned more about the club, I would say more about the passion around the club from the fan base, the interest of media, the willingness to make this a winning team and that brings a lot, a big level of responsibility, to me to make sure that I bring the right people in. This is why I have so much concern for that, in a good way, and I’m very careful on bringing the best players possible that are going to fit the squad.
Did it change your perception as to the job that you were taking, and the task at hand in terms of getting the squad back where it should be or was it what you expected?
MDS: No, it was what I expected.
Are you closer to naming any of your new staff members?
MDS: Yeah, that should be very close, hopefully before the end of the year.
How excited are you in terms of the roster flexibility you now have and how active do you plan to be with the upcoming MLS mechanisms in the offseason starting soon here?
MDS: Yeah that was one of the reasons also that I wanted to come here, because I felt that there was space to make a roster better, but with that being said, you can’t do this in one transfer window. So, people cannot expect that with one transfer window we change everything in a club, because when you change players it needs to click. You need a little bit of time to make it click, but everything that is being decided is looking in the medium and the long term of the club. So you’ll probably see a lot of younger, energetic, dynamic type of players coming in.
Does that mean the likes of Theo Bair, Simon Colyn or Michael Baldisimo might get a chance this year?
MDS: They’re going to have the chance this year. What depends, is it depends what we say what chance is. That they’re going to have a chance to be in pre-season, show all the qualities they have, and to win a spot. Yes, 100%. For me to guarantee that they’re going to play 5, 10, 20, 30 games, I can’t do that right now.
Looking at this roster, one would say that the job that you have in front of you is absolutely massive, because when you look at the players you have, maybe you could say half of those are viable MLS players. This is a massive job is it not?
MDS: It is, it is 100%, but again you know at every big job and every big club, when you want to change something and you want to move forward, you’re going to have to start by almost, I would call it, destroying something to rebuild, and this is what we’re doing at the moment.
Nico Mezquida, and Erik Hurtado, consummate pros known for being hard workers, keeping their head down and most importantly, not rocking the boat. Are those the kind of players you like to have, as you build the club here moving forward?
MDS: It’s important to have players that show up everyday. They show up to training, they show up to every event, that’s part of creating a winning mentality. So every player that has that show-up attitude everyday, I think it’s in a good spot for the club.
How active do you expect the club to be during the four-hour trade window in a few weeks?
MDS: Very active, we’re very active at the moment. It’s what we think about every night and what we think about every day. We’re working very hard on re-building this roster.
Marc did you get a chance to watch any of the playoff matches last night?
MDS: Yes I did.
Anything jump out at you? Were you impressed with the atmosphere at the Mercedes, or do you go the other way?
MDS: Atlanta is a special case, you know, I think LAFC had a similar story. But I think clubs like Atlanta or LAFC have set the bar very high for Cincinnati, Nashville, Miami. It’s good for the league, it’s incredible for the league. Atlanta’s in a good spot to qualify for the MLS Cup, it’s going to be incredible if they host that final over there. You never know with New York, you know, New York could come out and after ‘x’ amount of minutes have one or two goals, you know, it’s a tough place to play over there. Now Sporting Kansas City, Portland, it’s open. It’s not a bad result when the away goals count, 0-0 could seem bad, but it’s not a bad result. Say Kansas City is up 1-0 until the 95’ minute, Portland only needs one goal, so it’s interesting. Everything’s open in my opinion, but I think, it’s a guess, but, Atlanta, Sporting KC in the final.
Has the team finalized pre-season plans?
MDS: Yes, pretty much, so, hopefully it’s going to be all announced soon.
So, losing Kei, your leading scorer, what do you expect to see your goals come from this year, stylistically?
MDS: But, we didn’t lose [anyone] yet. We’re just assessing the situation and hopefully we’ll know more soon.
Stylistically where do you think your goals are going to come from, is it going to be more of a point man target kind of system or possession?
MDS: I hope that our goals come from a lot of places. I don’t like to have teams that only expect one or two guys to carry the team on their back. I like to have teams where everybody participates and I hope that goals are going to come from different places.
The club conceded 67 goals last year, how do you plan to shore up the back line? What’s your thought defensively?
MDS: It’s a good point but it’s not only the back line. When teams concede goals you think, right away the back line, but it goes, start defending from the front, from the front, forward to the midfield to the backline, to the goalkeeper, everything is important. But of course, when people or when teams concede goals, the first thing that is pointed out - goalkeeper and backline. But, I think it’s more than that, but of course there’s a concern from us to rebuild and to make sure that we can become better at that part.
Do you think that defensive style that the Whitecaps were really known for under Carl Robinson, do you think that’s something that we could expect to see?
MDS: You could defend with the ball, you could defend higher on the field. It’s very relative, everything, so I expect a more aggressive team defending. That’s what we want to build here.
I’ve heard you mention that Bielsa’s one of your influences, that defensive style. Does this mean that you’re going to paint the locker room pink and sit on a bucket outside?
MDS: [Laughs] No, I’m not going to sit on a bucket. Maybe one day if I still coach when I’m 60, I’ll sit on a bucket, but no now.
Anthony Blondell has been linked with some moves, potentially back to Venezuela, you mentioned that maybe someone can come in and win the job up top, have you had a chance to speak about that or is there any truth to that?
MDS: No, I don’t know about the interest in clubs in Venezuela that arrived towards us so I can’t confirm that. At the moment, Anthony is our player and we’re going to work with him, try to make him the best possible. If something that comes up, we’ll be very honest and direct with you guys and you’ll know about it.
One last thing, obviously changing the culture and building a new identity for the Whitecaps takes time, do you have any idea what a successful 2019 would look like for you?
MDS: Making the playoffs. That is what is going to guide us in the locker room everyday. To say win the MLS cup, I think that’s so, how can I say it, to just come out and say that we want to win it, of course. But everybody does, if you interviewed the coach of Salt Lake, Seattle, of everybody. Everybody wants to win the MLS cup, but if I talk to you about objective number one, can we be in the top six or the top seven next year? Whatever it’s going to be, build, and then from there, one game at a time, see where it brings us. But we want to make everybody aware how difficult it is to win the MLS cup. Do we want that? Yes, 100%.
Now on that note, is there a timeline for when you might think this club could be in a position to challenge for the MLS cup?
MDS: It’s a difficult question, it’s a fair question, but it’s a difficult one. We hope that we could see signs of growth every year, what we want to become is very consistent. Try to be in a playoff spot every year, try to be in a position that allows us, to win something every year, but in a consistent way. That’s going to give us the opportunity to win. It doesn’t guarantee wins, but that’s what it takes to win a cup. It takes consistency every day, so we hope we’re going to be that.