With preparations underway for the 2022 MLS season, LAFC officially confirmed Steve Cherundolo’s coaching staff on Tuesday: Ante Razov will return for his fifth season as an assistant coach, while Marc Dos Santos returns to the club where he was an assistant coach in 2018. The newcomer of the group is Oka Nikolov, who will be the goalkeeper coach.
“It was critical to the club that we assemble a coaching staff that understands our club’s goals and culture, and we feel we did that to the fullest with this group,” said LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington in a team statement. “We believe the wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience of this talented staff will help continue building the winning culture our fans both expect and deserve.”
Razov has been an assistant coach in MLS since 2015, and the Fontana native, who enjoyed a successful career as a striker, primarily in MLS, maintains continuity for LAFC. While Razov has reportedly interviewed for head coaching positions in the league, he seems set to stay with the black-and-gold for at least one more season.
Dos Santos returns to LAFC after being the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps 2019-21. While the Canadian was successful in the lower divisions as a head coach around North America and seemed destined to be a fixture as a manager in MLS, his tenure in Vancouver was rocky and he never reached the MLS Cup playoffs in his two full seasons, before being fired in Aug. 2021. But, this appointment is an opportunity for MDS to hone his approach and perhaps take a head coaching opportunity again in the future.
Nikolov makes the move to The Banc after serving as the goalkeeping coach at Philadelphia Union (2016-17, 2019-20), LA Galaxy (2018) and D.C. United (2021). A former pro goalkeeper himself who finished his playing career in the United States, the 47-year-old former Macedonia international is best known for his long tenure with Eintracht Frankfurt, where he faced Cherundolo a number of times in the Bundesliga.
As for the departed assistant coaches, Mike Sorber has followed Bob Bradley to Toronto FC, while Kenny Arena joined Pat Noonan’s staff at FC Cincinnati this offseason. It is unclear where former goalkeeper coach Zak Abdel will next surface.
LAFC open the 2022 MLS regular season on Feb. 26 against the Colorado Rapids.
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