LAFC embracing opportunity to start academy from scratch

John Thorrington at LAFC academy training

LAFC's expansion season has been a success. Bob Bradley's team looks assured of a playoff berth and could even finish first in the Western Conference as they look to match Bradley's 1998 Chicago Fire team as the only club's to win MLS Cup in their first season.

While the first team has been humming, the technical staff has been working to build an academy from scratch. The process started well before the Black & Gold ever played in MLS and has been led by John Thorrignton, EVP and general manager of soccer operations for LAFC. Todd Saldaña was hired away from U.S. Soccer to run the club's academy.

Under Saldaña's stewardship, the academy bore some fruit recently as the Under-13 team became the first team from the US to win the U-13 Concacaf Champions League title.

“Everybody from ownership on down is very pleased and proud of what’s happened so far,” Thorrington told Kevin Baxter of the LA Times. “But all of this is about being sustainably competitive.

“Right now our plan is to make sure we’re doing the best with the players that we have in our own local market. We have the most talent-rich market in the country. Let’s start there.”

The club does not field a team above the U-14 age level, as they hope the players they bring into their setup will learn the team's style of play as they grow.

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