Whitecaps FC name Vanni Sartini first team head coach

Sartini led the ‘Caps to the MLS Cup Playoffs, including a 6-1-1 record at BC Place

AFTER leading Vancouver Whitecaps FC to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017, the club announced on Tuesday that Vanni Sartini has been named the club’s first team head coach. Sartini has agreed to a two-year contract through 2023.

“We are thrilled to officially remove the interim tag and announce Vanni as our MLS head coach. He truly loves the game, this club and this city,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC Sporting Director. “After the midseason change, Vanni has proven that he has a strong tactical understanding of what is required to succeed, as well as clear vision and style of play. His passion and enthusiasm have energized our club and community. Together, with Vanni and his staff in 2022, we want to make the next steps in our development and have more exciting moments together with our fans at BC Place.”

Whitecaps FC head coach Vanni Sartini

  • 7W-2L-5D regular season record as acting head coach, the second-best record in the Western Conference during that span
  • ‘Caps improved scoring rate and conceded one or fewer goals in 12 of 14 regular season matches
  • Started a different XI, using 22 players, in each of his 14 regular season matches in charge
  • Will continue in his role as the club’s director of methodology
  • UEFA Pro Licence coach, the highest coaching certification available
  • Fluent in Italian, English, Spanish and learning Japanese

Sartini, a native of Florence, Italy, led the ’Caps to a 7W-2L-5D regular season record and 26 points over 14 MLS matches as acting head coach – the second-best record in the Western Conference over that span. The Italian tactician started 22 different players, using a different starting lineup in each of the 14 games.

“These last three months have completely changed my life,” said Sartini. “When the club gave me the chance to be the head coach in August, I didn’t know how long I was going to last but I knew that I had to give everything and make the most of the opportunity. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a great team and I’m so honoured, but also so excited, to help grow this club and continue this journey. Everyone now knows we are a good team, there are certain standards that need to be met, and the best is yet to come.”

Sartini will return in 2022 with the same staff that finished the season including assistant coaches Ricardo Clark and Michael D’Agostino, goalkeeper coach Youssef Dahha, as well as first team support staff including Jon Poli, Luke Summers and Andrew Foster.

Under Sartini, the Blue & White improved both offensively and defensively. The ’Caps increased their scoring rate from 1.15 goals per game to 1.57. At the other end of the pitch, the team conceded one or fewer goals in 12 of 14 matches, 85 per cent, an improvement from the 50 per cent ratio from the first 20 matches played. During his eight matches on the sideline at BC Place the team went 6W-1L-1D.

In the final stretch and with added pressure to obtain results, the ’Caps ended the regular season on a six-match unbeaten streak to qualify for the playoffs on MLS Decision Day. Sartini is the 16th full-time head coach as the club enters it 47th season in 2022.

Sartini arrived in Vancouver as Whitecaps FC first team assistant coach prior to the start of the 2019 MLS season. Following two years as an assistant, Sartini’s role evolved to lead the club’s academy program as the director of methodology and U-23’s head coach. Since the fall of 2020, Sartini has overseen the implementation of development, training and coach education philosophies used throughout the club.

Sartini holds a UEFA Pro Licence, the highest coaching certification available, and is fluent in Italian, English and Spanish and is learning Japanese.

Prior to joining the ’Caps, Sartini was head coach of A.S. Mezzana for three seasons, an assistant coach with A.S. Livorno Calcio – whom he helped earn promotion to Serie A – and an assistant coach with S.S.C. Bari. He later worked in opposition analysis for the Italian youth national teams at the U-17, U-19, and U-21 levels, and was a coach educator for both the Italian Football Federation and U.S. Soccer.

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