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Lights FC to name coach Monday; Frank Yallop may be choice

Lights FC owner Brett Lashbrook said the team will formally announce its new coach Monday. Multiple reports indicated Saturday his choice will be veteran manager Frank Yallop, who led the San Jose Earthquakes to two MLS Cups.

ESPN first reported Yallop’s name. Former coach Eric Wynalda, who Lashbrook fired June 17 for violating rules related to the United Soccer League Championship’s return-to-play guidelines, tweeted he heard Yallop would be his successor as well.

Lashbrook would not confirm the identity of the new coach.

“I’ve used this week to really think: ‘How do we continue to grow the club?’” Lashbrook said. “(I’m) absolutely 100 percent committed to getting (our) on and off the field (product) to greater heights and that has come into the decision making this week. I’m really, really pleased with how this process has evolved.”

Lashbrook said he will tell the Lights players who their coach is on Sunday. The new hire will lead the team through its remaining 15 USL Championship games once the season returns. The league has a targeted restart date of July 11.

If he’s pick, Yallop, 52, would give the team an experienced hand. The former Premier League and Canadian national team player has a lengthy track record as a manager.

His coaching highlights include four stops in Major League Soccer (the Earthquakes, the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Earthquakes again and Chicago Fire), a two-year stint coaching Team Canada and time in the USL Championship with Phoenix Rising FC.

He was most recently the general manager of USL Championship side Fresno FC. The team played two seasons in 2018-19 but folded in October after its ownership group was unable to secure a soccer-specific stadium.

Yallop is 175-175-127 as a club-team manager. The Earthquakes won the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003 under him, as well as the Supporters’ Shield (best regular-season record) in 2012. He was named MLS coach of the year in 2001 and 2012.

Yallop is 25-22-21 as a general manager. Fresno finished third in the Western Conference last season and lost in the conference quarterfinals.

Lashbrook is hiring his fourth coach in less than three seasons.

The Lights first coach, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, left the team with six games remaining in its inaugural 2018 season. His son Isidro Sanchez finished the year as coach. The team went 8-19-7 and finished 15th in the 17-team Western Conference.

Wynalda, a former U.S. national team striker and outspoken TV commentator, improved the Lights’ record to 11-15-8 in 2019. The team ended up 13th in the West and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

Wynalda also led the Lights to a draw in their only 2020 match.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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