Sarachan grew up in Rochester, New York, graduating from Brighton High School in 1972. He then played two years of college soccer at Monroe Community College where he was a junior college All American in 1973 and 1974. After the 1974 season, he transferred to Cornell University, where he played two more years, and was named the team MVP as a senior.
Following his graduation, the Rochester Lancers of the North American Soccer League (NASL) drafted Sarachan. He played two seasons, 1976 and 1977, with the Lancers.
After two seasons with the Lancers, Sarachan moved indoors, where he played for the Pittsburgh Spirit in 1978–79, and the Buffalo Stallions from 1979–1981.
While playing for the Lancers, Sarachan was an assistant coach at the nearby University of Rochester, and he was additionally the assistant coach at Cornell for one season in 1983.
After one season, Sarachan joined Bruce Arena for the first time, becoming his assistant coach at the University of Virginia after Bob Bradley departed to become head coach of Princeton University.
After five years at UVA, Sarachan was offered the head coaching job at his alma mater Cornell, which he accepted in 1988. He stayed at Cornell for ten years, compiling a record of 64 wins, 63 losses, and 16 ties, and leading the team to NCAA tournament appearances in 1995 and 1996.
On December 17, 1997, Bruce Arena hired Sarachan as his assistant with D.C. United following Bob Bradley's departure from the team to become the head coach of the Chicago Fire. Although Arena would leave following the 1998 season to coach the United States national team, Sarachan stayed on, assisting new head coach Thomas Rongen.
Following the MLS Cup-winning 1999 season, Sarachan left to become a full-time assistant to Arena with the national team, where he was instrumental to the team's scouting and preparation for the 2002 World Cup. Sarachan's intimate knowledge of soccer and his personal relationships with the men on the team was a major contribution to the team's historic run in Korea. As of 2017, Sarachan returned to his previous position of being the U.S. Men's National Team assistant coach. He will assist head coach Bruce Arena on preparing the U.S. Men's National Team qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Sarachan received his first professional head coaching opportunity soon after the United States' impressive World Cup run when, after the 2002 season Bob Bradley left Chicago for his hometown MetroStars. Sarachan was chosen for the Fire position, and had a tremendous first season, leading the Fire to the MLS Supporters' Shield with a 15–7–8 record, as well as a U.S. Open Cup victory, and an appearance in the MLS Cup, where they lost to the San Jose Earthquakes; for his performance as a rookie, Sarachan was named the MLS Coach of the Year. Since being named only the second coach in Fire history on Nov. 4, 2002, Sarachan guided the squad to its third Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup crown in 2003 in addition to appearances in MLS Cup 2003 and the 2004 Open Cup Final.
Sarachan's second year was significantly harder, however, as star defender Carlos Bocanegra left MLS for Fulham before the season began, and he lost national teamer DaMarcus Beasley to PSV Eindhoven in midseason; numerous other injuries plagued the team, and the Fire ended the season tied for the league's worst record, at 8–13–9. The Fire finished at 15–13–4 in 2005. In Sarachan's fourth season, the Chicago Fire took their fourth Lamar Hunt Open Cup. The Fire's appearance in MLS Cup 2003 led to an invite to the 2004 CONCACAF Champions Cup, during which Chicago registered a combined 2–2–0 record against San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad & Tobago (quarterfinals) and Costa Rican powerhouse Deportivo Saprissa (semifinals).
On June 20, 2007, Sarachan was fired as head coach, by Fire GM John Guppy. Sarachan finished with a 55–50–31 league record with the Fire and 75–57–33 across all competitions.
Sarachan was hired by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2008 along with current head coach Bruce Arena. The two of them led the Galaxy in the second half of the 2008 season when there was really no chance of the team making the playoffs. In 2009 the turnaround was made, Sarachan and Arena brought in 16 new players and the Galaxy cut their goals against deficit in almost half and was in first place for much of the season. They led the Galaxy to MLS Cup 2009 where they lost to Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks.
Sarachan lives in Southern California with his wife, Cherie and two children, Ian and Alexa.
On December 27, 2014, the Rochester Lancers of the Major Arena Soccer League will induct Sarachan into the Rochester Lancers Wall of Fame as one of Rochester's "soccer pioneers". Sarachan played for the original Rochester Lancers of the North American Soccer League.