LAFC Academy Director Todd Saldaña is responsible for overseeing all technical and developmental aspects of the Academy, and helps establish a player pathway from the Academy to the Club’s professional levels, including the LAFC First Team and the United Soccer League’s Las Vegas Lights.
Known for his long history of player development, Saldaña has played an integral part in the progress of soccer in Southern California and the greater U.S, having played, scouted, coached, and developed players who have gone on to play professional abroad as well as in MLS, United States, El Salvador and New Zealand National Teams.
Saldaña joined LAFC from the United States Soccer Federation where he served as the U.S. Technical Advisor for the Southwest Region. His role included player identification and evaluation, academy development and worked with various Youth National Teams. While with the Federation, he also worked both as a U.S. Player Scout and Team Opponent Scout for the U.S Men’s National Team under former Head Coach Juergen Klinsmann.
Saldaña has also spent significant time working with and studying youth academies in the U.S. and abroad including FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia CF, Villarreal CF, Atlético Madrid and OGC Nice.
Born and raised in Redondo Beach, Calif., Saldaña attended South Torrance High School. As a youth player, he represented the United States playing with the U.S u15, u17, U20, U23 National Teams including the U20 team’s debut in the FIFA U20 World Cup. He began his professional playing career when he was drafted out of high school in the college draft at the age of 17 by the Los Angeles Aztecs under the direction of legendary Dutch coach Rinus Michels.
Saldaña holds a United States Soccer Federation ‘A’ license.
Director of Coaching / Las Vegas Lights Head Coach*
A native of Cataluña, Spain, Duran brings his expertise in global youth player development to LAFC. Prior to joining the LAFC Academy, Duran spent 10 years with FC Barcelona leading projects in Spain, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
Duran has been instrumental in developing the Academy’s training methodology and is responsible for the continued development of all Academy coaching staff.
Named the Head Coach of the Las Vegas Lights, the USL affiliate of LAFC, on February 4, 2022, Duran holds a UEFA ‘A’ License.
A California native, Cuellar joins the LAFC Academy for his first year as an Academy Coach. He adds a wealth of knowledge in player development with 15 years of experience working for the Mexican Football Federation. In his time in Mexico, Cuellar led various youth national team age groups and helped prepare players for the highest levels of competition. He now brings his passion and experience to LAFC and looks to guide players on their career path to the professional ranks in the future.
Originally from Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, Jacinto enters his third season with the LAFC Academy. Jacinto focuses primarily on the Academy’s U12 and U11 age groups, and joined LAFC from Boca OC. He currently holds a USSF ‘A’ license.
Sandoval joined the LAFC Academy in 2017 and currently coaches the U17 team. The Compton, CA native also identifies potential Academy prospects and brings valuable experience as a former player at California State University, Bakersfield and professionally at the USL level. Sandoval brings to LAFC strong ties to the Los Angeles soccer community and an in-depth knowledge of the Southern California youth soccer landscape, adding to his ability to develop talent inside the LAFC Academy. Sandoval currently holds a USSF ‘A’ License.
Originally from Romania, Rus was a standout youth coach in Southern California with AC Brea before joining the LAFC. Academy. Rus adds an important layer to the Academy’s player identification and developmental process and currently holds a USSF ‘B’ license.
Academy Staff Coach: Michael Jacobson
Academy Goalkeeper Staff Coach: Adrian Padilla
Academy Scout: Gabriel Lucatero
Academy Scout: Mario Ayala
Academy Scout: Hector Garcia
Academy Scout: Joey Yusumas