LAFC today announced the establishment of a USL affiliate partnership with the Las Vegas Lights FC of the USL Championship, beginning with the start of the upcoming 2021 season.
“Establishing an affiliation with a team in the USL is the next step in our evolution as a Club,” LAFC Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington said. “We are extremely excited to work with Brett Lashbrook and the Lights on this partnership. The USL Championship is an incredibly competitive and successful league that continues to grow and we are happy to be involved with it.”
Longtime U.S. Soccer legend and Southern California native Steve Cherundolo will serve as the head coach for the Lights’ upcoming 2021 USL Championship campaign. Cherundolo most recently served as an assistant coach for Germany’s under-15 national team, and he has also been an assistant for Hannover 96 and Stuttgart in the Bundesliga. In 2018, Cherundolo joined the U.S. national team staff for a European training camp and matches.
“Steve Cherundolo has enjoyed one of the greatest careers of any player in U.S. Soccer,” Thorrington said. “He is an established coach in Germany and has the experience and ability to lead Las Vegas and continue the work of developing young players.”
One of the most accomplished U.S. players of all time, Cherundolo spent his entire 16-year club career with Hannover in Germany, appearing in 370 league matches and 423 games across all competitions and he served as team captain. Internationally, Cherundolo was a three-time FIFA World Cup participant, starting in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup and playing 87 times for his country between 1999-2012.
“I am extremely excited and proud to be joining the LAFC and Lights FC families,” said Lights head coach Steve Cherundolo. “My experiences as a coach and player over the past 22 years in Germany and with the U.S. Men’s National Team have provided me with the necessary tools to help further this fascinating endeavor. Helping players and teams maximize their potential is a process I take great pride and joy in, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Called the “Most Interesting team in the world,” by Sports Illustrated, the Lights are entering their fourth season in the USL Championship. The team was formally announced as a USL expansion franchise on Aug. 11, 2017 and made its professional debut on March 17, 2018.
“Lights FC is ecstatic to partner with LAFC. To be the best you strive to work with the best & LAFC is a world-class organization,” said Lights FC Owner & C.E.O. Brett Lashbrook. “We’re incredibly proud of what Lights FC is building within the Las Vegas community and today’s announcement provides so many important new resources to accelerate our Club’s growth plan.”
LAFC is entering its fourth season in Major League Soccer and has qualified for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in its first three years of existence. Since 2018, the Black & Gold leads MLS in total regular season wins (46) and points (161) and became the first team in MLS history to defeat three Liga MX teams in the Concacaf Champions League en route to an appearance in the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Final.