Marc Dos Santos, the current Head Coach of the Ottawa Fury and most famously known for guiding the Montreal Impact (at that time in the North American second division) to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, recently granted an interview to Northern Starting XI where he spoke about his coaching dreams.
While he admitted that his ambition of coaching in the English Premier League, although not impossible, may be unrealistic due to the numerous factors involved in landing such a job, a more realistic dream of his is to manage Canada’s men’s national team. “People ask me ‘Why Canada?’” he says, but he is eager to give back to his country of birth that handed him every opportunity to be a coach: “Without those Canadian people who helped me, I would never be a coach.”
Dos Santos feels he would bring a different flavour to the Canadian set up, because he believes he has a different outlook than most of his contemporaries. As he explains: “I think I’m a different Canadian coach. I feel that a lot of Canadian coaches like comfort, they’re like a lot of Canadian players. I was always a guy who didn’t like comfort. When I left Montreal, I didn’t go work in a region (one of Quebec’s coaching districts), I (wasn’t afraid) to go six months without a job. I’m always looking for a challenge, not a guy who stays in his comfort zone, so I’m not a typical other coach in Canada”.
His patience in finding the right opportunity for his next coaching move paid off, as Dos Santos was able to go coach the Palmeiras u-15 squad. Having performed beyond expectations there, he moved on to become Technical Director at Desportivo Brasil. Bring up Brazil to Dos Santos and he becomes wistful: “Brazil was…Brazil was Brazil. Brazil is football. I was able to grow there.”
Although he loved his time in Brazil, the siren’s call to come back home was too tempting to pass up. The lure of building his own squad from scratch in Ottawa brought him back to Canada. He has since gone on to turn numerous heads with how quickly he has built a championship-contending club in the capital. The Fury are currently in second place in the overall NASL standings with 10 matches to go.
Dos Santos speaks with pride when asked about the number of Canadians in his Fury squad: “I get a little bit upset when asked about (Canadian players getting playing time on Canadian clubs), but here it is: if Canada wants to move and be serious about one day having a chance to make it back to the World Cup, we have to take being a Canadian club and playing Canadian players seriously. I take a lot of pride in that because at the end of the day when you analyze your career, when I’ll be 65 and playing cards in Miami, you’ll look back and wonder ‘What have you done for the country where you were born?’. We’re proud of the fact that when Julian (de Guzman) leaves us (to play for Canada), we can bring in Mauro (Eustaquio), who is Canadian, and seeing what he does. Same goes for Carl (Haworth) and Mason (Trafford): we feel we’re playing our part and we’re very serious about it. You have to balance that with the fact that you have (demands from) fans, media, owners, and you want to win. You look at the Montreal Impact, (who drew) 60,000 fans for the CONCACAF Champions League final, but not one Canadian in the lineup. We have to find that balance.”
The topic of whether to play Canadians based on the country on their passport is one that ignites the passions of Canadian soccer fans across the country. As he does on any topic, Marc Dos Santos is unequivocal in where he stands in that debate. It also makes him an interesting candidate for the role of head coach and technical director for Les Rouges, whenever that position becomes vacant.
As he told Northern Starting XI: “I think Canada can do something and I want to coach the national team of the country where my wife, my kids and I were born. My wife, sometimes when we’re speaking, she’ll ask me: ‘Marc, where are we going to live when you’re coaching Canada?’. That’s how she speaks of it with me. I would tell you it’s part of my dream.”
Photo courtesy of Ottawa Fury.