He expects goals. A lot of them.
“I think we'll see games that are going to become very open with a lot of opportunities,” dos Santos told reporters in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “I think there's gonna be a lot of chances. I see a lot of goals in this tournament. The reason why I picture something like that is because I think that the heat is going to play an important factor.”
As for his team’s matches, dos Santos admitted he preferred to face the Seattle Sounders out of the gate as a bit of a gift to the club’s fans. Instead, the Whitecaps meet FC Dallas in their opener July 9. The meeting with their Cascadia rivals is the third match in the group, which could be even more important.
“In my approach, I wanted to have Seattle first more for a fan engagement thing, but we’re getting Dallas first and we’re excited about Seattle the third game, maybe it could have a lot of meaning in the group.”
The Whitecaps’ three group stage matches will all kick off at 10:30 pm ET, but dos Santos said there’s not going to be an advantage for his team because they’ll be acclimated to the Eastern Time Zone by the time their first match occurs.
He likes the time because it will be ‘Caps fans more chance to see the games. However, there are some added challenges.
“What we’re going to have to do very well, though, is prepare the players to live a different type of life when it comes to sleeping until later, having a later breakfast, a later lunch, a later dinner, a later pregame meal," he said. "Their life changes when you play at 10:30 pm ET. Most of our training sessions are also going to be at night so that’s going to be a bit of a change for all of us. But I think all of this tournament is going to be about adaptation, about mindset about being ready to go to a place that might be very uncomfortable.”
Dos Santos joked start times that late into the evening aren’t a foreign concept. In Brazil, they happen every Saturday.
“That’s because the soap opera is more important than the soccer game,” dos Santos said. “The game starts at 10 o’clock, right after the soap opera.”
Dos Santos said he’ll go to Orlando with a team nearly fully healthy, with defender Erik Godoy being the only player in doubt.
They also go there in a playoff position in the Western Conference after the first two games of the regular season. The goal is to be in that position when they return from Orlando, noting the importance of the “nine points at play” in the group stage counting in the league table.