For Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos, Wednesday's road clash with the Montreal Impact (8 pm ET | TVAS, TSN 1/5 in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US) at Stade Saputo will take him back to the place where it all started.
The Whitecaps' sideline boss spent three seasons in Montreal, first as an assistant, then as the head coach when he took over after the firing of John Limniatis in 2009. He would compile a 42-30-30 record across 92 matches for the club before departing in June 2011.
He's not the only member of the Whitecaps who will be making a Montreal homecoming. Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau came up in the Impact youth academy system before signing as a Homegrown player. Crepeau never broke through for a regular first-team role with the Impact, mostly backing up Evan Bush and playing for then-USL affiliate FC Montreal before his rights were dealt to Vancouver on Dec. 9, 2018.
Dos Santos went a lot of places in between his exit from Montreal and his arrival to Vancouver ahead of the start of the 2019 season, but speaking with reporters on Tuesday, he said he still maintains a degree of affection for the city that entrusted him with his first major head coaching gig.
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"Montreal for me is a place that is special," Dos Santos said. "It’s a place that has a lot of importance because I’ll never forget the club that gave the first opportunity and I’m always thankful and grateful for that. To be here, it’s special.
"But the focus is not about me or about Max, guys that grew up here," he added. "The focus is really about the Vancouver Whitecaps coming to Montreal and getting the result we want."
"It is [another game] but it's not," said Crepeau. "Every time you come back home to a former club or your motherland, it's sort of special because you know friends and family are here and will watch."
The 25-year-old goalkeeper went on to add: "I look forward to seeing all my family in the stands. Being in Vancouver, my parents came, my brother, my in-laws as well but all my cousins will be there. That's the special part about it, all my people can be there.
For the Whitecaps, the larger focus is on bouncing back from a rough match against the San Jose Earthquakes that saw them get peppered with an MLS-record 43 shots in a 3-1 loss on Saturday. Crepeau put in a standout shift, setting an MLS record of his own by saving 16 of those shots, but tightening up the defense that led to the historic barrage will be the top priority heading into Wednesday's match.
Dos Santos said he believes his players will be up to the challenge.
"I trust the players," he said. "I trust that we showed already in other moments that after the loss against Calgary [in the Canadian Championship], we went to Minnesota and tied, then after that we went to Cincinnati and we won. So the guys showed many times this year that they’re able to bounce back very quickly and I don’t have a doubt that we’ll bounce back tomorrow."