Vancouver Whitecaps: "Sky is the limit" after Canadian Championship repeat


Vanni Sartini doesn’t want Vancouver Whitecaps FC to stop with back-to-back Canadian Championship titles. Far from it.

“In basketball, I'm a Chicago Bulls fan,” said the head coach Wednesday evening. “So let's go for the three-peat next year.”

The Italian manager was speaking after his side completed a 2-1 victory over CF Montréal, resulting in their second straight Voyageurs Cup title. They also become the first MLS club to qualify for the revamped 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, hoping to build off a quarterfinal trip in the regional competition in 2023.

Sartini, in no uncertain terms, made clear he wants more silverware this year. They’re currently sixth in the Western Conference table with 21 points from 16 matches, and will return to action Saturday evening when hosting league-leading FC Cincinnati (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

“Let's go win the MLS. We'll start probably after Cincinnati because we might be a little bit drunk [from celebrating], so that's okay,” Sartini joked.

“But I think it would be a crime against ourselves, a crime against football, a crime against everything if we don't make the playoffs. We are a very, very good team. This year can be special. We harvested less than what we've planned so far. This year it will be very, very, very special. I know I told you already that, but it's going to be true.”

The Whitecaps, overcoming a standout performance from Montréal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, secured the trophy at BC Place via goals from Brian White (57’) and Ryan Gauld (65’). Sartini was so proud of their performance that he even made a bold proclamation on a day when Inter Miami CF dominated the global soccer discourse for all but finalizing a deal for superstar Lionel Messi.

"I think the headline today would be 'ok Messi is coming but the Whitecaps play even better than Messi.' For 80 minutes we were fantastic,” said Sartini. “Jonathan was the best player on the field by far, he was the only one who kept them in the game.

“Then we did things that we are doing too much, not mature enough to manage those situations. … At the end it was very, very scary, so if it means even sweeter to win the cup like this ok, but the real result should have been like 4-1 for us, easy.”

Sartini, who got a tattoo of the Canadian Championship trophy after winning it last year, doesn’t quite yet have the 2023 addition lined up. But he’s hoping to add more ink and lead the Whitecaps long-term.

“It will be very easy, just adding a year underneath,” Sartini said. “I still have a lot of part of my body that is free. There’s Leagues Cup, there's MLS Cup, Champions Cup now, not Champions League next year. So, why not? The sky is the limit.”