Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all have had an enjoyable week and that the weekend is coming into focus.
Well, it’s Decision Day eve and that means you’ve just about wasted another perfectly good MLS season with us here at The Third Sub/86 Forever. This year was a bit of a risk for all of us after we were jettisoned from the SB Nation universe.
In fact, you all responded so well to this new venture — something that was surely helped by a memorable season for the Caps on the pitch. But as someone who has now done this for a while, each season is made immeasurably better by sharing it with some very talented bloggers and you all. As always, thank you.
I’d like to think The Third Sub has performed well enough for a contract extension but I know Vanni Sartini has earned one. The good news is Sartini confirmed this week that he has been talking with management about extending his deal, which expires at the end of the season. And it seems as if things are moving towards an agreement.
Despite being someone who had moments last season in which I questioned Vanni’s leadership of the team (moments I now certainly regret), this is a no-brainer.
The Caps were mired in a trophy-less drought when Vanni took over and he has gone and won three trophies in two-and-a-half seasons, not to mention credible performances in Leagues Cup and two playoff appearances, including a 2023 season that feels like it is building towards something.
The vibes, of course, have been immaculate most of the time, which is certainly a compelling reason for bringing Sartini back in-and-of-itself. The players clearly respond to his leadership, he is as honest and charismatic as any other manager in MLS and he is a working class hero — what’s not to love?
This year, coach of the year will rightfully go to Bradley Carnell for one of the most impressive performances by an expansion side in league history. But Vanni should be in that next tier of finalists for the award, both for his work in 2023 but as a symbol of how far the Caps have come, from a disorganized mess when he took over to a cohesive team with a strong identity and a promising future.
It hasn’t always come easy, mind you. The Caps have had to tweak their tactics multiple times this season to find something that will work. But whether it was Julian Gressel, Ryan Gauld or Ali Ahmed, Vanni is good about finding ways to maximize the team’s strongest players and build an identity around that.
So win, lose or draw in Saturday’s match, it feels good to hear that our favorite Italian will, in all likelihood, be back on the sidelines next year.
Shameless Self Promotion
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Lionel Messi tops the pack in the new MLSPA salary dump but the Caps have a couple interesting developments
San Diego FC have announced their name and branding and even by bland MLS standards … its rough
Canada will take on Jamaica in the Nations League quarterfinals, with a spot in the Copa America at stake