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LAFC add six coaches to academy staff

Diverse group has playing and coaching experience here and abroad.

A portrait of Cristiano Scapolo
LAFC academy coach Scapolo as a Bologna player.
Getty Images

Los Angeles Football Club announced on Wednesday that in line with the boys academy program’s expansion into the U-13 and U-14 levels for the next U.S. Soccer Development Academy season, they have added six members, from five different countries, to the staff.

Spanish native Enrique Duran has been appointed Player Development and Methodology Advisor. According to the release from the club, “Enrique will collaborate with Todd Saldana, Academy Director, to develop the curriculum and player development strategy for LAFC’s Academy.” Duran holds a UEFA ‘A’ coaching license.

Cristiano Scapolo has been appointed academy coach, is currently working as U-12 head coach, and will become U-14 head coach next season. Scapolo, 46, played his entire professional career in his native Italy. Getting his start at the mighty Inter in 1989, the midfielder also played for Vicenza, Ravenna, Atalanta, Bologna, Roma, Napoli, Legnano and Meda in a career stretching to 2004.

A couple years after retiring, Scapolo moved to California, and has been working in youth soccer ever since, most recently as technical director of Real SoCal-SCV.

Argentine native Luciano Fusco has also been appointed an academy coach, and will become the U-12 head coach this fall. A former pro player in Mexico and Argentina, he serves as assistant coach at UCLA and has previously coached at De Anza Force.

Neil Thompson has been appointed goalkeepers coach. Originally from England, Thompson played for a number of clubs in England and Wales, including Hull City, Carlisle United, and Barnet, before moving to the U.S. to begin his coaching career. Working at a number of levels, Thompson has been involved in coaching the U.S. U-19 national team.

Two local natives round out the group. Joe Pehanich has been named academy development coach, tasked with “identifying and developing players in the pre-Academy age groups. Joe also assists Academy teams during training and match days.” A former Development Academy director, Pehanich has a USSF ‘B’ coaching license.

And Fabian Sandoval is an academy coach, “assists all Academy teams, and helps identify and develop potential Academy players.” The Compton native is an assistant coach at Cal State LA and will be part of the group looking to identify talent on the local level. He holds a USSF ‘A’ license.

LAFC executive vice president of soccer operations and general manager John Thorrington spoke exclusively to Angels on Parade on the staff additions.

“We are incredibly excited to announce and welcome these Academy coaches to LAFC. Each of these coaches is mandated to maximize the potential of our Academy players while instilling our values of Humility, Enthusiasm, Ambition, Respect and Tenacity. I am confident that these coaches, with their diverse backgrounds, will work well together and help in our ambition to develop world-class players and people," he said.

As the program branches out from a single age group to a robust academy program, the coaching infrastructure grows with it. It appears the staff is in place for the 2017-18 season, but expect more additions as LAFC’s academy continues to grow.

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