Steve Cherundolo named new LAFC head coach

LAFC have hired Steve Cherundolo to be their next head coach, the Black & Gold announced Monday.

Cherundolo spent 2021 as head coach of USL Championship side Las Vegas Lights, which served as LAFC’s affiliate. He’s among the most decorated players in US men’s national team history, acquiring over 15 years of playing experience in Germany’s Bundesliga.

“I am extremely excited to introduce Steve as our next head coach,” LAFC co-president & general manager John Thorrington said. “We know what works for LAFC and what works in MLS, and Steve has a unique blend of international and domestic experience at the highest levels that matches those needs.

“We have seen this past year how great a fit he is with the LAFC culture, how well he knows our players and our philosophy, and that he is the ideal choice to lead us to on-field success.”

Cherundolo replaces Bob Bradley, who has since become Toronto FC’s head coach and sporting director. Bradley led LAFC for four years until his departure in November, starting in their 2018 expansion season, and helped bring the 2019 Supporters’ Shield to Banc of California Stadium.

Before leading Las Vegas, Cherundolo worked in Hannover 96’s academy and became an assistant for their first team. He also served as an assistant of VfB Stuttgart in 2018, then coached in the German national team youth system.

“I am honored to be named the head coach of LAFC,” Cherundolo said. “Having been a part of the club for the past year, I was able to see firsthand that the fans, city and organization are all very special. The foundation is strong, and I am committed to guiding us to success on and off the field. I can’t wait to get started."

Cherundolo amassed 87 USMNT caps, including a spot on three FIFA World Cup rosters (2002, '06, '10). The San Diego native made 415 appearances for Hannover 96 during his playing career.

Cherundolo takes over an LAFC side that, in 2021, missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time after finishing ninth in the Western Conference standings.

While the Black & Gold exercised the contract option on star Carlos Vela, it's an offseason of change at Banc of California Stadium. Standout midfielder Eduard Atuesta was transferred to Palmeiras in Brazil’s Serie A and Diego Rossi is on loan at Fenerbahce, among multiple changes. They do return forward Cristian Arango, the 2021 MLS Newcomer of the Year.

“We believe Steve is the right coach for LAFC at this important time in our history,” LAFC lead managing owner Larry Berg said in a release. “We have always had high expectations for our club both on and off the field, and I know our incredible fans do as well. We have a talented group of players, and I am confident we are going to add even more exciting talent to that group very soon. We believe that Steve is the coach who will harness that talent, win important matches, and give our fans a team they are proud to support.”