While MLS remains on hiatus, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos said he was watching attentively as South Korea's K League returned to action and played its first round of games over the weekend.
Part of that was just satisfying his fix for some new soccer after nearly two months without any new competitive games, like any one of the other 1.8 million soccer-starved viewers that watched the stream of the opening match between Jeonbuk Motors and Suwon Bluewings on the league's Twitter account. But speaking with reporters on a Tuesday Zoom call joined by Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster, Dos Santos said he also took the opportunity to do some scouting, taking note of the players that stood out for future reference — something he said he'll continue to do should other leagues return in markets that the Whitecaps could feasibly target players.
"I've watched the South Korean league, I've watched the games on replay," Dos Santos said. "Of course, every time you watch a game and you know that it's an accessible market — a market that you could potentially in a realistic way get a player — you always take note of the players that stand out. I share them with Axel, you always take note of that. But then there's other leagues you start watching that's an unrealistic market at the moment. But every time you watch games from certain markets, we take note of the players that stand out and could maybe one day be an option for you."
It's a market the Whitecaps have dipped into before, most recently with midfielder Hwang In-beom, who played his first season with Vancouver last year after racking up over 100 appearances in stints in South Korea's first and second divisions.
Schuster said he also took in some of the K League action, both to see what the quality of play looked like after the lengthy layoff, as well as to see if any players fit the club's profile.
"I think we all got tired of looking at old games, so I was happy to finally see some new competition," Schuster said. "It was interesting to see at what level the league comes back regarding quality and shape, so of course I was looking at the K League as well. We all have our identifier profiles, what a player should look like for our team. So if you look at any game in the world you're looking at the profiles and you're looking at if you see a player that maybe fits to this profile.
"That doesn't mean you are still at this moment are looking for this profile, or are in general right now looking to sign somebody -- it's only to open up your mind, to make some notes, to keep somebody in your mind and maybe go back later if you need this position. So I think nobody in our business is watching a game without a few percentages of scouting players at the same time."