The team came back from the bottom
By Mo Hussain, Contributor
One can only imagine how the team would’ve done with an entire season of Vanni Sartini as head coach.
Although the Whitecaps ended their season with a first-round playoff elimination, their season was far from disappointing. Throughout the first half of their season, the team was on pace to finish among the bottom teams in the MLS. Their unbelievable climb from the bottom to a playoff spot was quite an incredible accomplishment.
A big reason for the team’s success was bringing in Vanni Sartini as interim head coach in late August. Up until that point, the team had only won four of their first 21 games. However, Sartini had an immediate impact as the Whitecaps won their first match under him 4-1 against Real Salt Lake FC. The team then went on an absolute rampage after that, gaining at least one point in 12 of 14 games. That run helped springboard them into a playoff spot for the first time in four seasons, and only the second time in the past six seasons. The team ended up finishing sixth in the Western Conference and were playoff bound.
For that playoff game, the Whitecaps squared off against the number three seed Sporting KC. Sporting KC was nine points ahead of them in the standings. During that game, the Whitecaps managed to out-possess Sporting KC and even equalized the game 1-1. The equalizing goal was in the 39th minute due to a penalty kick from forward Cristian Dájome.
However, that proved to be not enough as Sporting KC would score a goal of their own at the tail end of the second half from defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin. Sporting KC then iced the game 3-1 in the 57th minute with a long shot goal from defender Graham Zusi. That game, unfortunately, meant the end of the Whitecaps season, but it also marked the beginning of a brand new era. One can only imagine how the team would’ve done with an entire season of Sartini as head coach. A reality Whitecaps fans will certainly get next season. On November 30th, the Whitecaps announced that Sartini is now the permanent head coach of the team, as both parties agreed to a two-year contract.
“These last three months have completely changed my life,” said Sartini in a Whitecaps press release. “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.
The next time the Whitecaps will be back in action is February 26th, as that’s when the next MLS season is scheduled to start.