Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini placed in MLS health and safety protocols

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini has been placed in Major League Soccer’s health and safety protocols.

The club says Sartini will miss the next week of training, as per MLS COVID-19 guidelines. But he is expected to be back in time to join the team for its Feb. 5 departure to San Diego, where it will spend 11 days and play four pre-season games.

The squad is currently working out at the Whitecaps FC National Soccer Development Centre.

Sartini is the only member of the Whitecaps roster or coaching staff in the health and safety protocols.

“I think that the club’s been pretty vigilant,” said fullback Jake Nerwinski. “We’ve had meetings before about protocol, updated protocols.

“It’s upsetting and we hope the best for Vanni. We hope it doesn’t affect him too much and we hope he has a speedy recovery. But, yeah, this is still around. It’s still real and this can still affect a lot of people and a lot of people’s lives. So we just hope that everyone continues to stay safe and take all the precautions necessary.”

The ebullient Italian was named acting head coach last August when the Whitecaps fired Marc Dos Santos. The interim tag was removed Nov. 30 after leading the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2017, losing 3-1 to Sporting Kansas City in the first round.

The Whitecaps finished the regular season 7-2-5 under Sartini, the second-best record in the Western Conference during that span.

Vancouver opens the regular season Feb. 26 at the Columbus Crew.

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini leaves the field at halftime during an MLS soccer match against Real Salt Lake, in Vancouver, B.C., Aug. 29, 2021. The Whitecaps says Sartini has been placed in the MLS health and safety protocols.

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