The inevitable happened. After two and a half seasons, the Whitecaps have parted ways with head coach Marc dos Santos. The news sent shockwaves throughout MLS on Friday afternoon. The report is coming after the disappointing loss against Pacific FC in the Canadian Championship.
Sporting director Axel Schuster believes the move could be the jolt the club needs as it battles for a playoff position.
“I’m convinced it could be at exactly the right moment, that it’s the wake-up call to go back and also focus on the small things that we’re not doing well,” Schuster told reporters on a video call Friday.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) August 27, 2021
In two and a half seasons, coach Marc dos Santos finishes with an MLS regular-season record of 22-37-18. In MLS play, Whitecaps FC scored 87 goals and allowed 133 goals. It was never a matter of if Dos Santos was going to get sacked. It was more of a decision as to whether this would occur during the 2021 season or would Dos Santos have the rest of the season. Many expected that the FO would not renew Dos Santos’ contract at the end of the season.
The last nail in the Marc dos Santos coffin was embarrassingly getting run off the pitch and losing the Ferryside Derby 4-3 to CPL side Pacific FC. But, unfortunately, that is all Axel Schuster and other members of the Whitecaps higher up needed to see.
“I went home yesterday after the game. At 1:00 am, ordered Uber Eats burgers and stayed up until four in the morning,” Schuster explained. “I went to bed with an idea of what to do, and if tomorrow morning I get up and I still have the same idea, I will contact a few people and get their ideas and thoughts. I spoke to Marc as he arrived here at the facility. We wanted to handle it as fair as possible, and they respected that.”
“We decided this morning that this project needs another push, that this project needs some new life.”
Whitecap’s Director of Methodology and U-23 coach, Vanni Sartini, will lead the team as acting head coach. Assistant coach Ricardo Clark and goalkeeper coach Youssef Dahha will remain in their posts.
Sartini originally joined the club as a first-team assistant coach before starting the 2019 MLS season, before transitioning to Director of Methodology this last September. 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.
Sartini at the helm leaves the Whitecaps in an exciting position with 14 games left in their MLS schedule. Eliminated from the Canadian Championship now, all they can do is focus on the remaining games. They’re well within reach for a playoff spot—especially given how things have shaped up in the Western Conference.
Three points off of the 7th and final playoff spot, with a game in hand over 7th-place San Jose, the Whitecaps have the opportunity to make the playoffs. But it’s going to need a spectacular end of the season to do so. That includes a solid roster, along with the new DP #10, Ryan Gauld, who already has three goals and two assists in just one start. This team has the talent to go on a huge run, with Gauld as the centerpiece.