For the first time since the club’s inaugural season, LAFC will have a new head coach.
The club officially hired former Las Vegas Lights FC head coach Steve Chernudolo as its head coach on Monday, making the former USMNT star who spent 15 years with Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga the club’s second-ever head coach.
After Bob Bradley was let go following the 2021 campaign, the young club looked to enter a new era. Now under Chernudolo, the team is ready for new beginnings.
"We were looking for someone who would fit at LAFC, both for our playing style and his personal characteristics, how he interacts with people," LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said in an interview with MLSSoccer.com.
"We wanted someone who could develop players to great effect, a coach we know our players will love playing for. Someone who understands the connection to our city, our supporters. For all that we know about Steve and what we predict will happen with Steve, he won out.”
In his first season as a senior team head coach with Las Vegas in the USL Championship, the Lights finished last in the Pacific Division with 21 points, the third-lowest point total in the league.
As LAFC’s USL affiliate, the staff in Las Vegas worked closely with LAFC, an advantage of familiarity for Cherundolo as he joins the club.
“I understand where LAFC have been, what they’ve built and where we’re going," Cherundolo said. "From my experience, I think I can add to that. I think I can take this organization to the next step. One thing I’ve been extremely impressed with at LAFC is how good of an organization this is, from ownership to every employee. We all want the same thing: success for our fans.”
Cherundolo played under LAFC’s last head coach, Bob Bradley, from 2006 through 2011 with the USMNT. While the club moves in a different direction after Bradley’s departure, Cherundolo learned lessons from the former coach that he says will help him as he takes over in Los Angeles.
“We’re similar, but also very different," Cherundolo said. "Bob is an incredible coach, has done incredible things, was very important to me in my career and someone I’ve learned from as a player and coach. We worked very closely, both staffs between Las Vegas and LAFC. I had the chance to pick his brain every day. I think the world of him as a coach and person. They’re big shoes to fill, but it would be false to try to replace Bob. We’ll move in our direction, try to define this role a little differently.”
LAFC begins its first season under Cherundolo February 26th against Colorado Rapids at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.