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Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Model of play guiding Marc Dos Santos in building 'Caps roster

VANCOUVER, BC – One of the reasons Marc Dos Santos said he was attracted to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coaching gig was the opportunity to put his stamp on a roster.

And that process is officially underway.

The ‘Caps announced on Monday that the club has picked up the 2019 contract options on seven players, including midfielder Yordy Reyna and defenders Doneil Henry and Brett Levis, while the declining the options on nine. An additional four players are out of contract, which leaves 17 players on the roster for the upcoming season. 

“It gives us a better picture of everything by having made some moves,” Dos Santos told reporters. “Now we know exactly what we need to do next.”

And that includes finding a new starting goalkeeper.

Among the players who had their option declined on Monday was New Zealand international Stefan Marinovic, who joined Whitecaps FC in July 2017. Dos Santos said part of the thinking was his belief that domestic goalkeepers can succeed in MLS, which in turn frees up an international roster spot for another position. 

“Every decision is about the club,” he said. “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 pick the option of someone, you need to be backed up with other things you can do. And I think what we’re doing next is exciting.”

Another area Dos Santos said he’ll be looking to strengthen this offseason is the winger positions, with Alphonso Davies having joined FC Bayern Munich, Brek Shea not having his option exercised, and the out-of-contract Cristian Techera exploring other opportunities.

For Dos Santos, Monday was very much the beginning.

There are many situations that are still being evaluated, including that of out-of-contract striker Kei Kamara, and conversations around the league are in full swing with the MLS half-day trade window, Expansion Draft, and Re-Entry process just around the corner.

Dos Santos said that every decision he has made so far, and will make in the future, is being guided by the model of play he’d like to establish in Vancouver.

"When your team has the ball, what do you want the team to look like?" he said. "In the moment we lose possession, what are the behaviours of the players? One of the examples, I like a team that when we lose possession has a very strong reaction to the loss of possession. So we want players that are dynamic, players that close down the space quickly."

The new ‘Caps head coach has certain behaviours in mind for each position and has identified a number of targets who fit the mould. He expects to be “very active” when the MLS half-day trade window opens on December 9, but also reiterated that the process of building his roster will not be rushed and could occur over the span of two or three transfer windows.

“I’ve learned more about the passion from the fan base, the interest from the media, and the willingness to make this a winning team,” Dos Santos said of his first few weeks on the job. “And that brings a big level of responsibility to me to make sure I bring the right people in. This is why I have so much concern about that in a good way. And I’m very careful about bringing the best players possible that are going to fit this club.”