The Portuguese attacker returned for preseason refreshed and recharged after a longer winter break than normal as the club's first official matches were delayed from the usual schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He's ready to go and has his eyes on more silverware.
“I will do everything to be the first MLS team to win this competition and make history with Columbus," Santos told media on a virtual press conference. "We have that mentality.”
Columbus kicks off their CCL campaign on April 8 against Nicaraguan side Real Estelí in the round of 16. They would likely face Liga MX giants CF Monterrey in the quarterfinals should they advance.
No MLS club has won the competition yet, which has been dominated by Liga MX.
Toronto FC came close in 2018, losing the final in penalties to Chivas. LAFC made the final in 2020 and even took a lead over Tigres UANL in the second half, but succumbed to a painful 2-1 loss. With the trophy, Tigres qualified for the Club World Cup where they beat Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras and played a hard-fought game against Bayern Munich in the final.
“For me personally, it’s a very important competition," Santos said. "It’s prestigious, we can achieve a lot. It gives us the opportunity to play in the Club World Cup. The players need to have the mentality to win this competition.”
Santos, 32, had six goals and eight assists in 22 appearances in 2020, an integral member of the club's MLS Cup-winning team, scoring twice in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. He's also no stranger to continental cup competitions, as he featured 13 times in the UEFA Europa League with Braga and another two times in Europa League qualifying with the Portuguese club during his time with the club.