Louisville’s professional soccer clubs have agreed to an undisclosed fee releasing Mario Sanchez to sign as USL Championship side FC Tulsa’s head coach and technical director, it was announced Tuesday.
Having helped launch the LouCity & Racing Academy – six boys players have already turned pro since 2020 – Sanchez had recently transitioned to the role of assistant coach and technical director for NWSL club Racing Louisville FC.
Sanchez will bring Luke Spencer with him to FC Tulsa, starting Spencer’s pro coaching career after three years working in the academy ranks. Spencer also played for Louisville City FC from 2017-2020.
Racing Louisville has opened its search to fill Sanchez’s assistant coaching role. The club also elevated Guillermo Sanchez to head of the LouCity & Racing Academy from his prior post of assistant boys director.
"Mario and Luke have served our organization with wonderful leadership and commitment, and we wish them both the very best of luck in Tulsa — except, of course, when they play us," said Soccer Holdings' president, James O'Connor. "As with any workplace, we understand high-performing employees will get opportunities, and succession planning is a key component in how we operate. We have displayed a wonderful track record of developing people be it players, coaches or executives, and we look forward to seeing that trend continue as Guillermo takes the leading role in our academies."
“This was the most difficult decision I have made in my professional career," Mario Sanchez said. "I love the direction that Racing is going. The owners and (General Manager) Ryan Dell are committing great resources into the club. The club has put together a great roster. Most importantly, by hiring (Head Coach) Bev Yanez, they have the best person to lead them! Bev is going to take this team to new heights. Ultimately, for me, the opportunity to lead Tulsa and help them achieve their goals was something I felt I could not pass up. I will always be grateful for the opportunities that Soccer Holdings has provided me and I will definitely be following Racing’s success this year and in the seasons to come."
"I would like to express my gratitude to the owners, staff, players and their families for the incredible support that I have received throughout my time here," Spencer said. "The club’s commitment to my personal development has allowed me to grow as a coach and as a person. Over the last six years, I have experienced what it’s like to work for a club that consistently acts with the best of intentions while also pursuing a standard of excellence that is second to none. With the relationships that I have built and the experiences that I have shared here, LouCity will always be a special club to my family and me. Thank you!"
The new academy director, Guillermo Sanchez joined the LouCity Academy in 2022. He worked previously as an assistant on O’Connor’s staff during their time at Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC and holds a USSF A License.
Sanchez was born in France, raised in Venezuela and moved to Denmark at age 17 as an exchange student. At 20, he arrived in the United States to compete collegiately for NAIA side Graceland University, where he also earned a degree in psychology and modern foreign languages.
Sanchez went on to play professionally in Venezuela before returning to Graceland to lead his alma mater. He coached around the world – in Venezuela, India, Paraguay and Bolivia – until joining O’Connor. Boasting a master’s degree in sports psychology, he started in 2017 as head performance analyst and mental coach for Orlando City before getting promoted to assistant coach.