Despite only beginning the club's sixth season in Major League Soccer, LAFC have already begun tapping into the hot bed of talent in Southern California with exciting homegrown players like Erik Dueñas, Christian Torres, Nathan Ordaz and Tony Leone all on the roster.
It's those players, and the pipeline of talent coming after them, who stand to benefit most from Monday's announcement of an international player development partnership between LAFC and Bayern Munich. The joint venture (Red&Gold Football) will be based in Munich and allows players from LAFC's academy to move to Munich while Bayern players could also move to MLS for more experience.
Each club owns 50% of the venture's shares.
Legendary Bayern Munich goalkeeper and current CEO Oliver Kahn issued the following statement: "FC Bayern will expand its promotion of young talent with LAFC. On an international level, soccer is developing rapidly, which is also evident in the transfer market. We see this partnership as an opportunity to strengthen Bayern in the sporting competition with the best clubs in Europe and the Bundesliga. The fact that the 2026 World Cup will largely take place in the USA, where we already have an office in New York, makes Los Angeles even more attractive. I expect a boost in quality and young talent in MLS, which will have a positive impact on our partnership."
Hasan Salihamidžić, Bayern's sporting director, said the venture makes Bayern "more attractive as a youth development club" since young players can take a career path that's tailored for them during their transition into playing professionally.
John Thorrington, co-president and general manager of LAFC, said, "A partnership of this magnitude is the next step in our evolution as a club. We are extremely excited to work together with Bayern Munich to identify and develop young talent in Southern California and beyond and believe this relationship will provide players throughout our systems the ability to maximize their potential and see a clear pathway to our first teams."
FC Dallas enjoyed a similar partnership with the Bavarian giants dating back to 2018, but that venture has ended. The relationship facilitated Chris Richards' loan to Bayern Munich, where he then completed a $1.5 million transfer before joining Crystal Palace for $13 million last summer. That's the blueprint.
FC Dallas homegrowns like Justin Che (Hoffenheim), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen) and Dante Sealy (PSV) all also got to spend time training with Bayern Munich during the MLS offseason. They got a direct look at how they compared with players in Europe while experiencing the training methods of Bayern, and that clearly only fueled their desire to make it abroad.
It's been a long time since we've seen a SoCal kid playing for Bayern (Landon Donovan), but we shouldn't have to wait much longer.