“That’s the club that I would say in MLS does everything right,” said Dos Santos, who left LAFC in November to become manager of the rebuilding Vancouver Whitecaps. “That stadium in the heart of L.A. An incredible fan base. Good people in the club that work very hard every day.
“That’s the reality. That’s what we have to look at, not only in Vancouver but any other club in the league. That’s the example. That’s the standard. How close can you get to that?”
In the case of Dos Santos and the Whitecaps, not very. LAFC (6-0-1) has the league’s best record and, in Carlos Vela, the league’s top scorer heading into Wednesday’s game in Vancouver, where Dos Santos is winless six games into his first MLS head coaching job.
“Carlos is Carlos. Carlos is special. Carlos is a difference-maker,” Dos Santos said of Vela, who leads MLS in goals with eight and in assists with five.
Scoring has been the biggest problem for the Whitecaps (0-4-2), whose five goals in six games are worst in the Western Conference. Goals won’t be any easier to come by against LAFC, which has shut out its last three opponents.
Dos Santos has already coached against his former team, losing a 1-0 decision in both teams’ final preseason game on a goal by – you guessed it – Carlos Vela. Add in the preseason and Vancouver, which turned over much of its roster during the winter, is 0-7-4 in 2019.
But if there’s a team whose weaknesses Dos Santos understands well it’s LAFC, which could make several lineup changes Wednesday since the Vancouver game will be the team’s second of three in a nine-day span.
“He did a lot of our video and so he really educated us on ways in which we want to play,” defender Jordan Harvey said. “I respect him the utmost. And he’s a very good coach.