First-time Head Coach arrives from Austin FC, brings experience from Sacramento Republic FC, Charleston Battery
LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas Lights FC announced on Monday the appointment of Dennis Sanchez as the club’s new Head Coach ahead of the 2024 USL Championship season. The appointment is the first addition to the club’s staff since the acquisition of the club by new owner and six-time MLB All-Star José Bautista.
Sanchez joins the Lights having served as an assistant coach for Austin FC II in the 2023 season. Working alongside Head Coach Brett Uttley, Sanchez helped guide a squad that included current U.S. youth internationals Damian Las and Micah Burton to the MLS NEXT Pro title this past campaign.
“We are excited to bring Dennis Sanchez on board as the new Head Coach of the Lights,” said Las Vegas owner José Bautista. “Throughout the interview process, we found Dennis to be someone who aligned with the values we want to establish for this club. His communication skills and ethos as a coach made him the best candidate to lead the club forward on the field as we create a new culture and identity for professional soccer in Las Vegas.”
Sanchez brings prior experience working in the USL Championship to his new position from his time at Sacramento Republic FC and the Charleston Battery. Sanchez became Republic FC’s Academy Director in January, 2020, taking the reins from current Sacramento Head Coach Mark Briggs. During his tenure, the club signed academy products Mario Penagos, Rafael Jauregui and Hayden Sargis to their first professional contracts, with Sargis earning nomination for the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award in 2020.
In 2022 he joined the Charleston Battery as an assistant coach to Conor Casey and led the side in its final game of the campaign. During his tenure with the Battery, Sanchez played a key role in the recruitment of young star Fidel Barajas to the club, who this past year went on to win the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award before his transfer this month to Real Salt Lake for a club-record fee.
Prior to his appointment at Republic FC, Sanchez had spent four seasons as the Academy General Manager for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. With the Crew, he oversaw all aspects of the Academy including creating a player first culture, scouting and recruitment, and the implementation of an integrated methodology.
“I want to thank José for the opportunity to join Las Vegas Lights FC,” said Sanchez. “José’s vision for the success of this club is clear and has resonated strongly with me. I have full belief that under his leadership, we will attract the best players, foster a winning culture and consistently compete for championships. I would be remiss to not thank those people closest to me as I wouldn’t be here without them. I look forward to getting to work and making our community proud.”
Sanchez will immediately begin the Lights’ on-field preparations for the upcoming USL Championship season. The club will kick off the new campaign on Saturday, March 9 when it visits Memphis 901 FC before its home opener against FC Tulsa on Saturday, March 16 at Cashman Field. Click here to see the Lights’ full 2024 schedule.