Vancouver Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos is looking forward to the day when he can focus entirely on football.
Dos Santos ‘attention these days often has to turn to other logistics – even seemingly tiny details like who takes care of players’ pets – while the team is stationed in Utah because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ensuring the emotional wellbeing of its players and their families is a priority.
Like the other Canadian Major League Soccer teams, the Whitecaps have been hampered by travel restrictions between the US and Canada. Last season, after the MLS in Florida was the back tournament, Vancouver opened a store in Portland, Oregon and played home games at Providence Park.
This season started for the Whitecaps in Sandy, Utah, the home of Real Salt Lake. It is not known how long they will have to stay.
“What matters to me more – and I was never really worried when we went to Portland or Orlando, it was about a month and a half or a month – but now we have to pay a lot of attention to things like mental health, family mental health, who stay here, the families who can’t go to Salt Lake, the distance, ”said Dos Santos. “When I was preparing to be a coach, I never thought I would have to take care of it.”
The Whitecaps Utah tour company consists of 30 players, four coaches, and 21 employees, including executives, video analysts, 30 family members, five dogs and a cat.
Toronto FC, with new coach Chris Armas, plays at a resort in Orlando, Florida, and plays at Exploria Stadium. The Reds were playing home games in Connecticut last fall when the league returned to local markets. Montreal is based in Fort Lauderdale.
For the Reds and Montreal, training in Florida means dealing with more heat than some players are used to, as well as the occasional unwanted visitor – like the massive alligator that invaded a training session in Toronto.
But there is another more serious aspect: pandemic security. The Reds were inviting families to join the players in mid-April when COVID-19 cases suddenly surfaced in Toronto.
“They didn’t originally plan to come down and when things changed in Toronto we decided it made the most sense for them to just be down here and then I can help them a bit,” said defense attorney Justin Morgen said .
The basis for the impressive start of the season for the Seattle Sounders lies in their formation.
Technically, the new formation would be seen as 3-4-1-2 with three defenders, four midfielders, one attacking midfielder and two strikers. It’s a marked departure from the past when Seattle played with four defenders and only one forward at the forefront of attack.
The new look has allowed wingers Brad Smith and Alex Roldan to be more involved in the attack, and Raul Ruidíaz seems to be enjoying working with Will Bruin at the helm. Ruidíaz is second in the league with four goals in three games.
Seattle’s eight goals are synonymous in three games for most in the league. What’s even more impressive is that, alongside Orlando City, Seattle is one of two teams to score only one goal in their first three games.
“What I like is how should teams plan for Raul and Will? How the teams will plan our two full-backs in the penalty area, ”said coach Brian Schmetzer. “We pose problems for the teams in the attacking half, again because of the tactics and our staff.”
A new name
As the Republic of Sacramento waits for more clarity on its MLS expansion future, the USL version of the club is working on a unique new naming deal for their home stadium.
Sacramento Stadium will be known as Heart Health Park for the coming season through a partnership with Western Health Advantage, a non-profit HMO health plan based in Sacramento. It is believed to be the first sports venue specifically named to raise awareness of a health problem.
Along with the name, the team intends to open up the stadium to workouts with local fitness trainers, add CPR certification to its youth football program, and work with regional nonprofits to create additional programs in the stadium with an emphasis on active lifestyle and nutrition.
“Our mission to make Sacramento an incredible place to live, work and play includes prioritizing the health of our family, friends and neighbors,” said Kevin Nagle, owner and CEO of the Republic.
The 11,000-seat venue at Cal Expo was previously known as Papa Murphy’s Park.
Sacramento’s plans to expand the MLS franchise met with great success earlier this year when lead investor Ron Burkle pulled out of the project. The team has had advanced discussions with others interested in joining as lead investors.
Sacramento was originally scheduled to join MLS as the league’s 30th team in 2023.
GAME OF THE WEEK
There are a number of good MLS rivalry games going on this weekend, but Saturday night’s El Trafico between LA Galaxy and LAFC features the hot start of Javier Hernández, better known as Chicharito. The game will be broadcast nationwide on FOX.
AP sports journalist Tim Booth contributed to this report.