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Named the eighth head coach of the Kickers on November 6, 2019, and later adding the title of Chief Sporting Officer on November 19, 2020, Darren Sawatzky is ushering in a new era for one of the most historic clubs in U.S. Soccer.
Entering his fifth season with Richmond, Sawatzky looks to build on the culture created during his tenure. In his first season with the club, he led the team to an 8-6-2 record, the first winning record for the club in four years, and had the team in the hunt for the USL League One final heading into the final match of the season. Under his leadership, the club was able to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic without a single positive test. His scouting heading into his first season with Richmond found the 2020 USL League One MVP and Golden Boot winner, Emiliano Terzaghi.
The Kickers made their first postseason appearance since the 2016 season during Sawatzky’s second season at the helm. The club finished with a second-straight winning record in the regular season as Terzaghi and Akira Fitzgerald led the team from either end of the pitch. Terzaghi won his second-straight MVP and Golden Boot award while Fitzgerald was named Goalkeeper of the Year. Both players finished as All-League First Team.
Sawatzky’s third season saw the Kickers earn the 2022 USL League One Players’ Shield for winning the regular season. The Kickers set the single-season goal-scoring record with 54 goals while producing five all-league selections including two MVP candidates in Terzaghi and Jonathan Bolanos. Terzaghi went on to win his third-straight MVP award becoming the first player in American men’s outdoor soccer history to do so.
Sawatzky made the cross-country move to Richmond after a campaign with USL League One side FC Tucson, bringing in experience with coaching in the league. This was the first professional season for Tucson, after serving as a USL League Two club for the previous seven years.
Before joining Tucson, Sawatzky made a name for himself in the coaching ranks within the Seattle Sounders FC system. He led the Seattle Sounders U23 USL League Two squad along with directing the Development Academy, producing talents such as current United States National Team players Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) and DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray). During his time with the U23s, Sawatzky coached current Kickers center back Nathan Aune
Serving as an assistant coach in their final two USL seasons, Sawatzky served under current Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. The club claimed the Commissioner’s Cup and the League Championship during his first season in 2007.
The Seattle native also had a stint steering the Guam National Team, coaching former Kickers defender Alex Lee.
He holds a USSF A License and a French Federation Formation license.
Starting his professional playing career in Major League Soccer, Sawatzky was drafted by the New England Revolution in 1996, playing two seasons before moving on to the Dallas Burn in 1998. He went on to sign with the Charleston Battery later that year. Sawatzky was back in MLS the next year with the Colorado Rapids. A year later, Sawatzky found himself back in his hometown, signing with the Seattle Sounders, then a USL Championship side.
Joining the club ahead of the 2019 USL League One season, Elovaara came to the club after serving as the Commissioner of the Boys Elite Clubs National League (ECNL).
Announced in February 2023, Elovaara accepted a the role as Richmond United’s Technical Director in addition to his role as the Kickers’ Head Assistant Coach and Director of Methodology and Development.
Under Elovaara’s direction, Richmond United’s methodology will match the Kickers’ creating a direct player pathway to professional soccer in the Richmond area.
He was a four-year letter winner at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). A four-year starter in college, he is the all-time leader in games started for the NCAA Division I Seahawks while earning his BA in English.
Elovaara followed his collegiate career with over 150 professional matches in Finland. Receiving his MA of English Philology from the University of Oulu in Finland in 2002, Elovaara continued his studies, earning his Doctor of Philosophy in Cultural Studies in 2007.
Fluent in three languages, Elovaara holds a USSF A Senior License, UEFA B License, and UEFA Football Strength and Conditioning diploma.
Cappelletti joins Sawatzky’s technical staff on the bench for his first season with the club. The Kent, Wash. native brings nearly a decade of experience coaching and developing pre-professional talent as well as playing experience at the collegiate, pre-professional, and national team levels.
As a player, Cappelletti began his collegiate career at Wallace State playing during the 2007 and 2008 seasons and earning NJCAA All-Region honors in both his freshman and sophomore seasons before transferring to Division I school Valparaiso where he played from 2009-10. The defender also simultaneously played at the pre-professional level with the Indiana Invaders in 2009 and Kansas City Brass in 2010 while at Valparaiso. After graduation, Cappelletti played at Rocket City United from 2011-12.
He would move to Eugene, Ore. to join Lane United FC – a former Premier Development League (PDL) side, now, USL League Two – in 2013 when it first formed and played exhibition matches to raise community awareness ahead of its inaugural season in 2014. During that inaugural season, Cappelletti moved into an assistant coach role and honed his style, spending the majority of his young coaching career there before stepping into the head coach role at Lane United for the 2019 season.
It was during this stretch of time that Cappelletti and Sawatzky would begin to build a relationship, first on opposite sides of the touchline as coaches in the PDL when Sawatzky coached Seattle Sounders U23, then, in 2016, Cappelletti earned a call-up to play for the Guam National Team while Sawatzky was the coach.
The Richmond Kickers announced the hiring of Oregon State Men’s Soccer Goalkeeper Coach Evan Munn on Wednesday, Jan. 17 to the club’s technical staff. Munn also joins Richmond United as the Director of Goalkeeping.
Munn’s addition to the staff of both the Richmond Kickers and Richmond United will allow for the continued modernization of the youth development pathway in the central Virginia area. Along with coaching the Kickers professional goalkeepers to compete in USL League One, he will work to help the RU goalkeepers develop and pursue their goals, whether they be with the Kickers’ pro team, W League Richmond’s pre-professional women’s team, or at the collegiate level.
Munn joins the Kickers after serving on the Oregon State men’s soccer team’s coaching staff headed by Greg Dalby who led the Beavers to the NCAA Final Four during the Fall 2023 season. Munn worked directly with OSU’s standout goalkeeper Luis Castillo who enjoyed a career year between the pipes. Castillo was an All-PAC-12 First Team honoree while posting six shutouts and only allowing three goals in five postseason games.
Before serving on Dalby’s staff, Munn assisted the Bend Timbers FC’s goalkeeping director and coached girl’s teams from 2021-22. In 2021, he also coached at Philomath High School outside of Corvallis, Ore. when the Warriors claimed the Class 4A State Championship.
The Olympia, Wash. native reunites with Kickers’ Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky after Sawatzky coached Munn throughout his youth playing career in the Seattle Sounders Academy where Sawatzky was the director of the academy.
Munn’s college career began at Tacoma Community College from 2015-16 where he was team captain and the team’s most valuable player in his freshman and sophomore seasons. During his sophomore year, the Titans finished as Northwestern Athletic Conference Champions while posting a 13-2-7 record. Munn earned seven clean sheets, made 103 saves, and assisted three goals.
His success at TCC earned him a roster spot at New Mexico University in Division I during his junior season where he redshirted. Following the end of the 2017 season, the Lobos discontinued their men’s soccer program, and Munn transferred to Oregon State to play for the Beavers. During his redshirt junior and senior seasons, Munn played alongside former Real Madrid youth keeper Adrián Fernández.
During the collegiate summer breaks, Munn again played for Sawatzky on the Seattle Sounders U23 team that competed in USL League Two further strengthening the pair’s relationship. Munn also played with U23 club side Tacoma Narrows FC (formerly South Sound FC) who won the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) 2018 Open Championship.