In most of the world’s football leagues, loans are commonplace.
Players who do not see a large club’s pitch can be loaned to a small club in another league to help them develop their skills. Take Chelsea FC, the recently crowned UEFA Champions League winner of the English Premier League. Chelsea are known to send dozens of young players around the world on loan each year.
But in the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), loaning players out was unheard of.
That changed after the Baltimore Blast was forced to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only seven of MASL’s 17 teams made it through a truncated season earlier this year.
In January, the Blast offered three veterans of the team a chance to be loaned out.
Defender Adriano Dos Santos jumped at the chance. The same goes for first-choice goaltender William Vanzela, who headed for the San Diego Sockers, and forward Mike DaSilva, who landed with the Kansas City Comets.
Dos Santos chose the Tacoma Stars.
The decision was made easy thanks to the existing relationships he had with the roster players, Dos Santos said. He had played with goaltender Chris Toth and Stars head coach Nick Perera on the US National Men’s Beach Soccer team. And Vini Dantas, a former Blast player, was traded to the Stars in 2020.
The alternative was to stay home, overcome the pandemic and start the 2021-22 season without having played a live match for almost two years.
“It was about keeping busy and playing because going two years without playing, for a 33, 34-year-old guy is not easy to do,” said Dos Santos, who is entering his 12th year of football. indoors.
Blast owner Ed Hale, general manager Gianni Tumminello and new head coach David Bascome encouraged their stars to seize the opportunity while it was available.
All three players have garnered a lot of attention from other teams, according to Bascome, who noted it’s a sign of how much the rest of the league respects and desires Baltimore’s talent.
âIt’s greatâ¦ to have the chance to experience these other cultures and climates and to have the opportunity to keep winning,â said the coach.
The season of about three and a half months has been a chore for Dos Santos. Between training youth football with former Blast teammate Adauto Neto, he trained alone in Baltimore and flew to meet the team on weekends for games.
Tacoma was not allowed to play at its stadium due to Washington state’s COVID-19 restrictions, so all of the team’s games were played on the road in states with more relaxed pandemic restrictions like Missouri, Texas and Florida.
Tacoma players have welcomed Dos Santos with open arms despite the bizarre circumstances. Looking back, the experience was grueling, constantly flying from city to city, but was also “very positive,” he said.
âIt was a bit difficult but it was fun,â Dos Santos said.
The best part was making new friends on the squad beyond the ones he already had and playing in the fluid style that Tacoma deploys on the pitch, Dos Santos said. It was a temporary reprieve from the regulated and highly structured system that Blast has used over the past decade and more to win nine championships since 2003.
Dos Santos said the reputation of being indoor soccer royalty has followed him to the Stars given his role in Blast’s success, with his new teammates showing respect and asking questions non-stop about the game. way it is preparing.
Thanks to the quirks of the MASL programming, the Blast rarely play the Stars, so Dos Santos had never played Tacoma in his career before 2021. He was finally able to tour the city for a week in a playoff series. first round against San Diego. Vanzela was in the Sockers’ goal.
Dos Santos notched three assists, but Tacoma’s season ended in disappointment with two overtime losses. Despite only playing with the team for a dozen games, Dos Santos was still disappointed with the exit from the playoffs. After all, winning is always winning no matter who you play for.
The Sockers won the Ron Newman Cup against the Ontario Fury.
Dos Santos said he was happy his teammate Blast won another championship. The duo won four titles together in Baltimore.
“He’s got one on me now,” Dos Santos joked.
After the loan season ended, Dos Santos’ playing rights reverted to Baltimore. And his attention immediately turned to preparing for the Blast’s return to Towson University’s SECU Arena. This will be the 40th time Blast has fielded a team at Charm City.
The Blast regular season opener is scheduled for December 4 at 6:05 pm Fans will attend for the first time since March 2020.
Dos Santos recently re-signed with the Blast. According to team and league policy, the terms of the agreement are not public. Management is confident that Vanzela and DaSilva will also be re-signed.
The new deal, whether for this season or beyond, will ensure Dos Santos anchors an eager defense to prove themselves after almost two years away from competitive play. The ultimate goal? Of course, the team’s 11th indoor title.
Bascome watched Dos Santos’ matches with Tacoma via stream, preparing for how he will deploy the defender in his first season as a coach.
While he may not be as athletic as he once was – which Dos Santos readily admits – what remains in store is his deep experience and innate leadership. Bascome hopes to harness those intangibles this season to help guide the new young players the team has signed.
“I am very happy to see him again,” said Bascome. âAdriano has a lot of personality. One thing is his emotion and he has a winning path. It’s hard to find that. He gets up and wants to play and win. It’s hard to replace this love for the game.
Photo credit: courtesy of the Baltimore Blast
Number 269: June / July 2021
Originally posted Jun 16, 2021