After Adriano dos Santos remained sharp on the loan, he returned with a blast

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Loans are common in most of the world’s soccer leagues.

Players who cannot see the pitch for a large club may be loaned to a smaller club in another league to help them develop their skills. Take the newly named UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea in the English Premier League. Chelsea are renowned for sending dozens of young players from around the world on loan every year.

But in Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), player rentals were unheard of.

That changed after the Baltimore Blast was forced to cancel the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only seven of the 17 MASL teams managed to play a shortened season earlier this year.

In January, Blast offered three veterans of the team to rent.

Defender Adriano dos Santos jumped at the opportunity. Likewise, first-choice goalkeeper William Wanzela, who went to San Diego Sokers, and striker Mike DaSilva, who landed from Comets Kansas City.

Dos Santos chose Tacoma Stars.

Dos Santos said that the decision was made easily due to the established relationship with the players from the squad. He played with goalkeeper Chris Toth and Stars head coach Nick Perera on the US men’s beach soccer team. And Vini Dantas, a former Blast player, was sold to Stars in 2020.

The alternative was to stay home, survive the pandemic, and start the 2021-22 season without playing a game live for almost two years.

“It was about keeping me busy and playing, because it’s not easy for a 33-34 year old guy to be without a game for two years,” said Dos Santos, who plays futsal in his 12th year.

Blast owner Ed Hale, general manager Gianni Tumminello and new head coach David Bascom urged their stars to seize the chance while it was available.

The three players have garnered a lot of attention from other teams, Bascomm said, noting that this is a sign of how much the rest of the league respects and desires Baltimore’s talent.

“It’s amazing… to get the chance to experience other cultures and climates and get the opportunity to keep winning,” the coach said.

A season of about three and a half months was an ordeal for Dos Santos. In between youth football training with former Blast teammate Adauto Neto, he trained himself in Baltimore, and on weekends flew out to meet the team for games.

Tacoma was not allowed to play at their home stadium due to Washington state COVID-19 restrictions, so all of the team’s games were played away in states with softer pandemic restrictions such as Missouri, Texas and Florida.

The Tacoma players welcomed Dos Santos with open arms despite the odd circumstances. In retrospect, the experience was tiring, constantly flying from city to city, but was also “very positive,” he said.

“It was a little difficult, but fun,” said dos Santos.

According to Dos Santos, the best thing is to make new friends on the team, in addition to the ones he already had, and to play in the free style that Tacoma uses on the field. It was a temporary respite from the orderly, highly structured system that Blast has used over the past ten-plus years to win nine championships since 2003.

Dos Santos said his reputation as the king of domestic football followed him up to the Stars, given his involvement in Blast’s success, with his new teammates showing respect and continually asking questions about how he prepares.

Due to the nature of the MASL schedule, Blast rarely plays with the stars, which is why Dos Santos never played Tacoma in his career until 2021. He was finally able to come to town for a week during the first round playoff series against San Diego. … Vanzela was at the Sokers goal.

Dos Santos had three assists, but Tacoma’s season ended in disappointment with two tight overtime defeats. Despite the fact that Dos Santos had only about a dozen games with the team, he was still disappointed by the exit from the playoffs. In the end, no matter who you play as, there is still victory.

The Sockers won the Ron Newman Cup against the Ontario Fury.

Dos Santos said he is happy that his Blast teammate won another championship. The pair have won four titles together in Baltimore.

“Now he’s on me,” joked Dos Santos.

After the end of the lease season, Dos Santos’ player rights returned to Baltimore. And his attention immediately shifted to preparing for Blast’s return to the SECU Towson University arena. This will be the 40th time that Blast will field a team in Charm City.

The Blast’s regular season home opening is scheduled for December 4th at 6:05 pm. Fans will be attending for the first time since March 2020.

Dos Santos recently re-signed with Blast. Due to team and league policy, terms of the deal are not published. Management is confident that Vanzela and DaSilva will also be re-signed.

The new deal, whether this season or for a longer period, will provide Dos Santos with a defense eager to prove himself after nearly two years of hiatus from competitive play. Final goal? Of course, the 11th indoor team title.

Basque watched Dos Santos’ games with Tacoma live, preparing for how he would use the defender in his first season as a coach.

While he may not be as athletic as he once was – as Dos Santos admits without hesitation – what remains to the fullest is his deep store of experience and innate leadership. Bascome hopes to use these intangibles this season to help the new young players the team has attracted.

“I am very glad that he returned,” Bascom said. “Adriano has a lot of personality. His emotions are one thing, and he has a winning path. It’s hard to find. He gets up and wants to play and win. It’s hard to replace this love of the game. “

Photo: Courtesy of Baltimore Blast

Issue 269: June / July 2021

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