Delta dawn

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Canadian Marc Dos Santos was announced as the inaugural head coach of the San Francisco Deltas in 2016. In this Q and A, he discusses NASL turmoil, why he left the USL’s Swope Park Rangers for the Bay Area, and what he thinks of the Ottawa Fury’s decision to leave NASL for USL…

PP: The Deltas’ first NASL season isn’t slated to begin until the spring. How are you preparing for the 2017 campaign?

MDS: We already have a couple of players signed to contracts. We’re waiting for the right moment to announce them. (Ed. note: This interview took place before the Deltas announced some of their first signings). We have watched video, talked with agents, talked with players, we are looking at players who are free agents next season. We have to see what’s right for the mode of play we want to have in San Francisco.

PP: You led the Ottawa Fury to a fall-season title in 2015 and the NASL Championship game. Can we expect to see many former Fury players in San Francisco?

MDS: Of course, it is easier to work with the players you have worked with before. But it is also true that, after you work with one group in one city, you can’t repeat it the same way. Some players will be older, they will be slower. You can’t simply do a copy-paste of what we had in Ottawa. Coaching would be so easy if it was like that (So far, the Deltas have signed former Fury keeper Romuald Peiser, who won the NASL Golden Glove in 2015).

PP: Can we expect to see a Canadian players on the Deltas’ roster?

MDS: Yes, of course. It is not a secret that I have many ties with Canada, that I have a history in Canada, that I have relationships with Canadian players. We already have one Canadian signed (defender Nana Attakora).

PP: Once again, Canada not only failed to qualify for a World Cup; the national team didn’t even make it to the Hex. How disappointed were you in the national team’s ouster from qualifying?

MDS: I am very disappointed. It is important to have a national team that is visible to everybody, in order for soccer to grow in Canada. Here in the USA, when the national team plays a game, it’s talked about everywhere. People know about the games. The media does a very good job here talking about it. In Canada, when the national team plays, it’s s still a little bit hidden. So it’s important for the national team to do better. Now, that being said, Canada was in such a difficult group, with Honduras and Mexico, and only two of those teams would advance. I thought the Canadian players pushed as hard as they could right up until the end of the final game, they were trying to score more goals against El Salvador and hope for Mexico to win against Honduras. But, when you go into the final game needing to depend on a third party, that’s always the risk — that the other result won’t go your way.

PP: Ottawa and Tampa Bay have left NASL for USL. NASL will begin the season with just eight teams. How do you focus on your task with these uncertainties that surround the league?


MDS: I was signed to bring soccer to San Francisco. It is is my first time in this city and, actually, it’s an incredible city. Now, what I am hired to do is to bring soccer to San Francisco, to build a franchise in San Francisco. I am told by my owners that I am to keep on building, that this will be a team that is here to stay. But there’s no getting around it; this is a very dark time for NASL. I try to stay away from all of that. If NASL takes two steps back in 2017 in order to take five steps ahead in 2018, OK.

PP: How did you feel about the news about the Ottawa Fury making the move from NASL to USL?

MDS: I am absolutely not surprised. I know the ownership group must be very happy to see the RedBlacks in the Grey Cup. I always had the feeling that OSEG was far more interested about what happened in football and hockey than they were in soccer. To them, soccer was only a business interest, and it was too expensive to be in the NASL. Making the move to USL was more for financial and business reasons.

PP: Did it feel like that when you were there?

MDS: Sometimes, yes. I just had that feeling. Don’t get me wrong; the ownership group in Ottawa is fantastic. But there was always the feeling that football and hockey were more important. When you work in an organization that has teams in three sports, you feel like soccer is always put on the waiting list.

PP: Why did you make the decision to leave Swope Park Rangers so quickly?

MDS: I realized that I didn’t have the proper DNA to be a reserve team coach. I had to live it, I had to do it to find out what it was like to a be a B-team coach. And I knew very shortly into it that it wasn’t for me.

PP: In 2016, at Swope Park, you took advantage of the USL rules that allowed Canadians to be domestics on the rosters of American teams. You had four Canadians on the team. You had a standout season from Amer Didic, who came up from FC Edmonton’s academy, then to Baker University, then got the chance to play in CONCACAF Champions League with Sporting Kansas City. How satisfying was it to see him prosper?

MDS: For me, I am surprised that he is not playing in Edmonton. He has the abilities and qualities, in my opinion, over maybe some of the other players who came from their academy and played one or two games for the first team. Now don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for [FC Edmonton coach] Colin Miller and I think he has done a great job there, and it might be a case where Amer needed to develop and wasn’t at that point a couple of years ago. But, this past year, from the first day of training camp to the last day of the season, his development was terrific. Here was a kid who had gone to FC Edmonton’s Academy and had moved on to Baker, a small college. He came to Kansas City on a trial. He goes on to play in a USL final and gets called up for three Champions League games. I think he has the tools to have an excellent future in this game.

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