As part of his role at the expansion club, Sunderland will oversee the launch, growth and administration of FC Cincy's academy. He will also manage the club’s relationship with the USL via potential affiliation agreements and player development options.
“We’re thrilled to welcome a proven player development expert to FC Cincinnati as we expand and deepen our soccer operations, starting with the immediate launch of the FC Cincinnati Academy,” club president Jeff Berding said in a statement. “Larry has impeccable credentials and demonstrated success at installing and cultivating both a winning and a successful culture everywhere he’s been. He has been on the forefront of developing and refining the player development pyramid in the United States and we look forward to bringing his expertise to our club.”
Cincinnati will launch their youth teams for the 2019-20 season with U-15 and U-17 sides. The teams will be fully funded for all participants, with participation in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and trainings at the Mercy Health Training Center in Milford, Ohio.
With Sunderland's departure, the Timbers will now look to restructure the leaderships of their academy, which includes a pathway to T2 (reserve team) and the first team. He had been with the Timbers since 2015.
“We’d like to thank Larry for his contributions over his time with the Academy program, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “This change gives us the opportunity to restructure the leadership and direction of our Academy, and to further strengthen our youth development programs moving forward.”
Sunderland is expected to report to Cincinnati’s new general manager, who is yet to be named. Part of that role will be creating a unified training philosophy and methodology for every level at the club.
“Building on an exciting culture, a philosophy of development, and an intentional process of guiding players from the Academy to the first team is what really aligned me with FCC from my first conversation,” Sunderland said. “I believe that closing the gap between youth and professional development here in the U.S. requires a dedicated focus. It begins with our Academy and ends with first-team opportunities for our players. What happens in-between is the stuff that energizes me."
Before joining Portland, Sunderland was director of player development for the Chicago Fire starting in 2007.