Since taking over as Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach on November 7, Marc Dos Santos has been working “day and night” at building his roster for 2019.
And on Sunday, December 9, the MLS offseason officially begins with a half-day trade window, kicking off a busy two weeks that will also include the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, the opening of Free Agency, the MLS Waiver Draft, and the MLS Re-Entry Process – followed by the opening of the primary MLS Transfer Window in February.
This week on whitecapsfc.com, Dos Santos is discussing the qualities he’s looking for in each position, which are all guided by the model of play he’s hoping to establish in Vancouver.
Today, Dos Santos discusses the midfielders.
Spend a few minutes talking shop with new Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos and you’ll quickly learn that he wants his teams to play with a high level of intensity.
Intensity comes in many different forms.
It means making quick passes. It means reacting aggressively to losing the ball. It means making the opponent feel uncomfortable.
“When you have a locker room that breeds that, fans go to the stadium and always feel, “Okay, we’re down 1-0 in the score, but man the way these guys work, they’re going to tie the game,’” Dos Santos told TSN’s Peter Schaad. “There’s always a sense of belief.”
Those are the trademarks Dos Santos wants the ‘Caps to be known for. And often times, it can be the midfielders that set the tone, which is why Dos Santos has very clear characteristics he’s targeting in each of the midfield positions.
For starters, Dos Santos revealed that he intends to play with a number six, which is deepest-lying midfielder on the team that typically sits in front of the back line.
“You need a player that is able to close down spaces, that covers ground easily, that is able to link the team together,” he said.
In front of the number six, Dos Santos said he wants two central midfielders that are aggressive in the loss of possession – a common theme in conversations about his model of play.
“These are the first players to put pressure on the opponent in the middle third,” he said. “We want players to be aggressive to win that second ball, that are good on the ball, that keep the team in possession, that look to play forward and not always backwards.”
Dos Santos said the wingers in his system also need to be very committed to playing without the ball and defending, while also providing versatility in attack.
“We want wingers that take fullbacks on in one v. one situations, that are aggressive in the last third going to goal,” he said. “Not necessarily wingers that only come inside, but also that when they have to take you one v. one outside, they do that.”