Home NASL & USL More NASL & USL “We are not going to throw away our season because of rumours” — Marc Dos Santos preps Deltas for NASL final

“We are not going to throw away our season because of rumours” — Marc Dos Santos preps Deltas for NASL final

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In the late summer, the San Francisco Deltas’ Canadian captain, Nana Attakora, suffered what everyone but him thought was a season-ending knee injury. He needed surgery on his right knee.

Since the spring, the players and staff of the expansion Deltas had been hearing rumours that the team’s 2017 season in NASL would be its only season in NASL. Then, came news that the NASL itself would be fighting for its survival, a battle with the United States Soccer Federation that is still making its slow journey through the American court system.

Injured and with nothing certain after the season, it would have been oh so easy, heck, it would have been predictable, for Attakora to declare that he was shutting himself down for the year, and he’d be back at it in 2018.

But, no, Attakora told his coach, Marc Dos Santos, that he’d return in 2017. That he would come back to captain the Deltas. And that’s what he did; he returned just before the end of the regular season, played in the playoffs, and will be with the team when they contest the NASL championship Sunday, at home to the New York Cosmos.

For Dos Santos, who was just named the NASL’s coach of the year, Attakora’s drive is a representation of the team spirit that exists within the Deltas.

“Nana is our team captain, he is important to how we play with three at the back, and his character, well it means a lot,” said Dos Santos. “He had a small surgery and everyone thought he’d be out for the season. He said to me that he would be back and even I did not believe him. The fact that he came back not only shows his qualities as a soccer player, but as a human being.”

Dos Santos, the Deltas’ Canadian head coach, could have as many as four of his countrymen on the field for the final. Joining Attakora is Kyle Bekker, who has enjoyed a breakout season in midfield, along with defenders Maxim Tissot and Karl Ouimette.

The Cosmos have Canadian Dejan Jakovic in the lineup.

The NASL recognizes Canadians as domestics on the rosters of all its teams.

Of course, there is no escaping the bittersweet feeling that comes with this final. The Deltas were not part of the NASL ultimately rejected application to the USSF for Division-2 status in 2018. On Nov. 15, win or lose, the Deltas coaches and players are expecting to all join the ranks of the unattached.

“One hundred per cent it is not easy,” said Dos Santos. “Maybe something will happen. We still have hope until it is confirmed. But the writing is on the wall and it is not an easy position to be in. But i have to say that, through this all, the people in the club have been fantastic.”

And, through the year, Dos Santos said his team has followed a simple do-or-die philosophy that mimics the tough-as-nails attitude of their captain.

“We are not going to throw away our season because of rumours,” said Dos Santos.

Two years ago, Dos Santos led the Ottawa Fury into a NASL championship game. The Fury lost to the Cosmos. But he said there’s really nothing much to compare the final from two years ago to Sunday’s game. He said that finals are often decided by a simple lapse in concentration, something out of the ordinary. And the Cosmos of then aren’t the Cosmos of now; there are a few holdovers, such as keeper Jimmy Maurer, midfielder Andres Flores and defender Carlos Mendes — but the likes of Marcos Senna and Raul are gone.

“You can’t take things that happened in one final and apply them to another final,” said Dos Santos.

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