Kokomo FC field manager pleased with inaugural season, looks to bright horizon

Thursday, July 21, 2016

History has been made and all of the firsts have been recognized … Now, Kokomo Mantis Football Club manager Marcelo Santos is thinking of the future.

Santos and his Green and White club battled the best the United States Soccer Premier Development League could muster. They defeated perennial powers Des Moines and the Chicago Fire U23s at home and tied the Menace and fellow Heartland Division of the Central Conference power Thunder Bay on the road as part of a 4-6-4 record.

“We were playing, in what I feel, was one of the toughest conferences in the (USL PDL),” Santos noted. “You have three clubs we battled against (Thunder Bay, Des Moines and the Chicago Fire U23s) that have previously won national championships and are consistently in the playoffs.

“I think now our players know what it will take for us to be competitive (in the Heartland Division of the Central Conference),” he added. “(The year) went well. It’s always a challenge in year one to put a team together especially as quickly as we did. We matched up well with all of our opponents, as we were competitive in every game. We showed what we’re capable of.”

Santos, assistant coach Tobias Edenvik and goalkeeper coach Cristiano Costa feel a longer opportunity for contacting and recruiting new players to the franchise will bring about more positives in 2017 and beyond.

“We’ll start (that process) in December after most of the collegiate seasons are concluded,” Santos said. “I feel like how we ended (three straight road draws against Dayton, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg) coupled with the fact that the team played well in the middle of the year, rebounding after some defeats, will build confidence in our returning players which they can deliver to whoever will be new (on the roster).

“(The team) found out you have to be ready to go in every match,” he added. “This past year was just the unknown of not knowing the league or the opposition that well. We understand, now, that expectations need to be raised. One of the biggest pluses was the home atmosphere. It was good, and the fans got to see us play some of our best soccer, beating Chicago and Des Moines.  The idea is to build off that and have more fans come out and enjoy the players and team.”

In the meantime, soccer remains on the menu for most of the 2016 players and coaching staff. Santos steps back into his role as an assistant at Marquette University and Edenvik is coaching in the Swedish national academy while also teaching in his home country. “All of the college guys are back in their programs getting ready for the fall season,” Santos said. “I haven’t heard of any signings yet for our pro players, but I do know they are working towards that. We’re looking forward to being back in Kokomo next summer, too.”

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