He’s worked for teams in several North American leagues as well as overseas, holds a UEFA ‘A’ coaching badge, is a citizen of two countries and speaks a bunch of different
languages. Now Marc dos Santos, formerly of the pre-MLS Montreal Impact and NASL Ottawa Fury, has signed on as head coach of the San Francisco Deltas, which starts play in the NASL next year.
Team CEO Brian Andres Helmick and consulting general manager Jose Carlos Brunoro led the coaching search that yielded Dos Santos, who left the Fury last year and took over as head coach of Swope Park Rangers, the USL affiliate of Sporting Kansas City.
“We saw that he was an individual who not only had spent time in Canada and in the U.S., Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, and also speaks English, Spanish, French, Portuguese,” said Helmick in a telephone interview. “These are all traits that were super-important to us, because we do want to build something that recognized we are in the global city of San Francisco.”
Dos Santos, 39, reached the NASL championship game last fall with the Fury, which lost to New York Cosmos, 3-2. His decision to leave for an MLS-related job seemed logical at the time but he doesn’t see this latest move as odd. He built a program from scratch in Ottawa and is taking on a similar task in San Francisco.
“When I decided to leave the Ottawa Fury and join Sporting KC and Swope Park Rangers, at that time it was the right decision,” says Dos Santos. “But then professionally I realized I was meant to do more. It’s very different to coach an affiliate team where the players belong more to the club and it’s a very different dynamic.
“But I learned a lot. I learned a lot of leadership things with Peter Vermes and my time there with Peter and [assistant coach] Kerry Zavagnin and my assistant coach Nikola Popovic allowed me to become better in the methodology part of soccer as well as the leadership. I will keep those things for the rest of my life.”
Dos Santos decided in his mid-20s -- while playing for a Portuguese third division club -- that his destiny -- unlike that of his father, a professional player -- would be found on the sidelines. He started out in 2007 as coach of the Impact’s reserve team, Trois Rivieres Attak FC, and moved up to Impact assistant coach and then head coach. He left the Impact in 2011.
During those years he also commuted back and forth during the season to Europe to study for the UEFA "A" license, and instead of going on vacation as soon as the season ended, would take one-week coaching sessions at teams like FC Porto and Chelsea.
“For three years in a row, I spent one week at Porto,” says Dos Santos, whose wife Marie has taken his travels while raising three children in stride. “I spent four summers going back and forth. The Impact was very good to me, they let me go and come back for the games. That period of my life, getting my license, was very demanding. I was managing the Montreal Impact, and I was under a lot of pressure, because the Impact always wants to win. Then there was the stress of taking exams and getting the license.
“So those four years were a lot of work. But at the end of the day, once you go through all of that, you get the rewards in life.”
Between the Montreal and
Ottawa stints he worked with the youth teams of Brazilian clubs Palmeiras and Primeira Camisa, enduring the hot, humid conditions of a sweltering Brazilian summer. "
Though he officially starts work in October, Dos Santos said the process of selecting and recruiting players is already underway. Open tryouts will be held in November and an exhibition game is tentatively set for February against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The team has signed an agreement to play in Kezar Stadium, a downsized community facility in Golden Gate Park that can hold 10,000 and needs considerable upgrades to the seating, locker rooms and restrooms. The team has budgeted about $800,000 for renovations in its first season.
“We want to build something and the club is the star,” says Helmick. “The club comes above any individual in this room or any individual who will join us in the future. We want to create something that’s going to outlast us all.”