Mario Sanchez is in his fifth season with the Louisville Cardinals and his third as associate head coach. Sanchez joined Ken Lolla's staff in 2010 after serving as the head coach at UNLV for four seasons. He previously coached under Lolla for three seasons at Akron prior to taking the UNLV job.
In the last four seasons, Sanchez helped guide Louisville to a national runner-up, two more Elite Eight appearances and four total NCAA Championship berths. In 2013, the Cardinals won the inaugural American Conference regular season championship, hosted an NCAA Championship match for the 10th time and advanced to the second round before falling at Michigan State. Senior Jimmy Ockford was chosen as the AAC Defensive Player of the Year to lead a group of five all-conference selections.
Following the season, midfielder Marlon Hairston and Ockford were selected in the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft continuing a trend for the Cardinals. Hairston was chosen 12th overall by the Colorado Rapids to become fifth Louisville player drafted in the first round in the last three years, while Ockford went in the second round at No. 21 overall to the Seattle Sounders.
In 2012, the Cardinals won the BIG EAST Red Division for the third time in four years before advancing to the Elite Eight for the second straight season. Following the season, three Cardinals were selected in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Andrew Farrell was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft by New England, while Greg Cochrane signed with the LA Galaxy and Paolo DelPiccolo signed with the Montreal Impact.
In 2011, Sanchez helped guide the Cardinals to another exciting run to the Elite Eight. Playing the toughest schedule in school history, Louisville came on strong late in the year losing just one game from Oct. 22 to Nov. 28. The Cardinals were the No. 12 seed in the tournament and earned a first round bye for the second straight year. The Cards defeated Bradley 3-2 in double overtime of the second round before winning at Maryland 4-2. Louisville returned home to face UCLA for the third time in a year's span and after defeating the Bruins in the first two matchups, the luck ran out as the Cardinals lost 1-0 in double overtime.
School history was made when four Louisville players were selected in the 2012 MLS Super Draft. Three of the four players were selected in the first round with Nick DeLeon leading the way as the No. 7 pick by the DC United.
In his first season at Louisville, Sanchez helped guide the Cardinals to a school record 20-1-3 record and their first College Cup appearance. Louisville earned its highest ranking at No. 1 in most polls heading into the postseason. The Cardinals also earned the top seed in the NCAA Tournament, marking another first for the Cardinals. Louisville won its second straight BIG EAST Red Division title and captured its first BIG EAST Tournament title. Sanchez and the coaching staff were named Co-BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year, while Sanchez was also recognized as a top assistant by College Soccer News.
In his four years at UNLV, Sanchez turned the men's soccer program into one of the top programs in the West. After struggling in his first season with the Rebels, Sanchez brought in a very talented recruiting class, that included one of the nation's top recruits, Daniel Cruz. His recruiting efforts paid off guiding the squad to a 7-10-3 season his second year, earning six more wins since the previous season. Cruz was named the MPSF Newcomer of the Year and was a third team freshman All-American. While newcomer Andrew Friel also earned All-MPSF honors.
UNLV also claimed an upset victory over No. 21 New Mexico in a 2-1 overtime victory, the program's second win over a ranked team in Sanchez's two seasons and finished in a tie for fifth in the MPSF with a 3-7 league mark. Two Rebels (Cruz and Neagle) earned first team All-MPSF honors, and Sanchez was named Co-MPSF Coach of the Year for 2007.
In his third season at UNLV, the Rebels got off to a 3-0 start for just the third time in school history, and Sanchez had his team ranked regionally while also receiving votes in the national Top-25 polls. Though the Rebels had a few struggles starting with the middle of conference play, UNLV still finished at 8-9-1, the most wins since the 2002 season. Senior forward Lamar Neagle earned all-region honors, while both he and Daniel Cruz were first team All-MPSF selections. Sanchez also saw the duo both earn spots on MLS teams this summer with Cruz drafted by Houston and Neagle signed by Seattle.
His last season in Las Vegas, Sanchez guided the Rebels to their first winning season since 2002 with an overall record of 8-7-4. His 2009 squad was the youngest team in the nation with 12 freshmen and 14 newcomers to the squad. His team upset the third seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament and then fell in the semifinals to top seeded Sacramento State in double overtime. Freshman forward Nick Marshall was named to the NSCAA third team All-Far West Region. Marshall was the first-ever freshman at UNLV to earn all-region honors, and the third Rebel in the past five years to earn the honor.
Sanchez went to UNLV from Akron, where he was an assistant coach under Lolla from 2003-2005. During his time, the Zips earned three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including an appearance in the Elite Eight in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, where they tied eventual national champion Maryland before falling in a penalty kick shootout. The Zips finished the 2005 season with an 18-1-4 record and were ranked No. 1 in the nation for four straight weeks.
Sanchez was an assistant coach at Fresno State from 1999-2003 before the school dropped its men's soccer program. While in Fresno, he was also a staff coach for the Olympic Development Program Region IV from 2000-2003, and was an ODP coach for the Ohio North ODP program from November of 2003 until leaving for Las Vegas.
In the summer of 2006, Sanchez was named head coach for the ODP Region 90s Boys Age Group team. He coached in an international tournament in Italy in April 2007, and with a team that included Cruz, guided them to the semifinals of the 16-team tournament. He earned his U.S.S.F. "A" coaching license.
A 1999 graduate of Fresno State with a bachelor's degree in business administration, Sanchez was a four-year starter and two-time captain for the Bulldogs. Playing from 1993-97, Sanchez earned All-Far West Region honors in 1995 and 1997. He played for the national champion Central Coast Roadrunners in the United Soccer League from 1996-97 and was a third round draft choice in the MLS by the Kansas City Wizards in 1998. Sanchez also played for Orange County Zodiac (1999) and Stanislaus Cruisers (2001) in the USL Professional Division.
Sanchez is married to the former Shana Stickel. The couple resides in Louisville with their four children: sons Sebastian and Santiago, and daughters Ella and Emme.