Marc Dos Santos - Vancouver Whitecaps FC - 2019
WhitecapsFC.com

Vancouver Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos on the challenge of replacing Inbeom Hwang

The Vancouver Whitecaps are down one of their most creative players in the midfield with the departure of midfielder Inbeom Hwang, who was transferred last week to Russian side Rubin Kazan.

That leaves the question: Does the team have enough in support of big-time forward acquisition Lucas Cavallini to set the forward up with consistent chances? Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos was asked about that on the latest episode of the AFTN Podcast (hosted by MLSsoccer.com contributor Michael McColl), and the coach said that while it's going to be a challenge in the short term, he's confident in the personnel at his disposal. But Dos Santos also said the club is hard at working scouting for possible additions in the longer term, citing Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes as a reference for the type of skillset they're looking for.

Of course, finding a player like that is easier said than done (Fernandes is one of the most electric young talents in the world), which is why Dos Santos said the club is trying to be as diligent as possible to ensure they hit on whatever future signing they make.

"We feel we have solutions especially when [Janio] Bikel comes back from injury," Dos Santos said. "We’re going to have solutions. We need some guys that play kind of between the lines to step up and to become more consistent. It’s not a secret that we’re shaped more in a 4-4-2 where one of our forwards is the one who plays more between the lines. An example like Yordy Reyna or even Ryan Raposo can play that role. If we play more of a counterattacking game then you have guys like Tosaint [Ricketts] or Theo [Bair] who can play with Cavallini, for example. But in the midfield right now the biggest options are Bikel, Russell Teibert and Leo Owusu.

The Vancouver Whitecaps are down one of their biggest playmakers in the midfield with the departure of midfielder Inbeom Hwang | USA Today Sports

"And then you have the young players behind like Pat Metcalfe and Michael Baldisimo. You need to be become more creative there? Yes, absolutely. Is it clear what we want? Yes, absolutely it is," he continued. "The profile of what we want plays for Manchester United and his name starts with a “B” [Bruno Fernandes] and if you look at him, it’s exactly this type of player that we’d like to have in our roster. If I give you the name of a profile at the highest level possible, I gave you one…. We’re looking for it and working hard on it, but we don’t feel in a year like this one that we’re going to sign any guy and maybe being the wrong guy. We want to make sure it’s the right guy and we’re working so that it’s a player that really makes a difference on our team and makes the people around him better also. It’s very clear what we want and we have to be a little patient."

The Whitecaps are one of the younger teams in MLS, which Dos Santos said is exciting when he thinks about some of his players' future prospects in the league. For now, Dos Santos said it's about getting the most out of that young talent, with the hope that a future addition can subsequently bolster the group to new heights.

"There’s guys we have on this team that in one, two, three years are going to be very special and exciting in this league," he said. "You want to make sure we want to bring a guy in that can make a difference, a guy that gives us rhythm in between midfield and the attack. The ability to play the last pass and a threat with the last ball. We want to find the right player. Just because Inbeom left, it’s not get a player right now, and we bring a player and he’s just OK. What we’re going to do is that some of the guys on the roster are going to have the opportunity to show how much of that player they can be. And remember we opened a DP spot and we could choose right and bring the right one and that could change a good part of our team."

Listen to the full podcast here.


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