The Vancouver Whitecaps officially moved on from former coach Carl Robinson on Wednesday when it named Marc Dos Santos as his successor.
Dos Santos, a 41-year-old native of Montreal, becomes the fifth Whitecaps coach since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2011. He’s been signed to a three-year deal by the Whitecaps.
Vancouver fired Robinson in late September, and named Craig Dalrymple, director of the club’s youth academy, as his replacement on an interim basis. But the Whitecaps’ plan was to always look outside the organization to find someone to take over the coaching reins, and have that person in place before the end of the year.
Dos Santos has a wealth of experience, having previously coached the Montreal Impact, Ottawa Fury, Swope Park Rangers and San Francisco Deltas in lower-tier divisions. He won the 2009 USL First Division title with Montreal and the 2017 NASL Soccer Bowl with San Francisco, and was a two-time NASL Coach of the Year, in 2015 and 2017.
Most recently, Dos Santos worked as assistant coach under Bob Bradley at LAFC in 2018. This will be his first head coaching job in MLS.
Dos Santos’s track record of success in the lower leagues was one reason why he was such an attractive candidate for the job.
“For us as a club, we wanted someone who was like minded,” club president Bob Lenarduzzi said. “We believe that we can win a championship and we wanted someone to come in and feel the same way.”
Whitecaps co-owner Jeff Mallett agreed.
“He’s here because he’s the right coach and the right person to take us forward,” Mallett said.
“There’s a heck of a lot of work to do, but I feel confident that we’ve re-aligned, got ourselves going and have the right person in the middle of it to get us there.”
Dos Santos told reporters during his introductory press conference on Wednesday that he has drawn a red line on a board to mark the split between playoff teams and non-playoff teams, and that he plans to have that board in the dressing room before next season kicks off.
“The first thing that’s going to be clear with players is that we have to be above that line every day,” Dos Santos said.
Make no mistake about it, though, Dos Santos will have his work cut out in Vancouver. The Whitecaps finished eighth in the Western Conference this season, and failed to make the playoffs. Captain Kendall Waston, already upset over the firing of Robinson, has publicly stated he wants to leave Vancouver. The club’s best player this year, Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies, won’t be back – he was sold to German club Bayern Munich.
The Whitecaps’ season-ending media availability held last week ended up throwing more gas on the fire, with players speaking of a divided locker-room and major personality clashes, leading to club president Bobby Lenarduzzi admitting that the culture of the club has to be fixed.
“There were things that happened in the past locker room that were very good, others that were not so good. I’m here to try and change it and try to bring it to another level,” Dos Santos said.
The new Whitecaps admitted that changing the culture of the team, and giving it a new tactical identity won’t be easy.
“It’s not a Power Point presentation to the players or a motivational speaker or Harry Potter with a wand and now we have culture. That’s done in the day-to-day, every day,” Dos Santos stated.