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By ESPN Staff

Chelsea partners with Los Angeles Futbol Club

Chelsea FC announced Monday a partnership with Los Angeles Futbol Club (LAFC), one of the most prominent youth soccer academies in the U.S.

LAFC will now be LAFC Chelsea and host Chelsea tournaments, training sessions and a player and coach exchange program.

LAFC, a three-year-old club and academy based in La Canada, Calif., is the third club to partner with Chelsea this year, further expanding the English Premier League team's network of top American youth soccer clubs.

As a result of the partnership, LAFC Chelsea will offer more scholarships for young athletes with financial hardship. LAFC provides kids across Southern California and throughout the country the opportunity to play competitive soccer regardless of ability to pay club membership costs.

Chelsea FC Chief Executive Peter Kenyon said: "Our youth super club network is designed to support soccer development in the US. LAFC shares the same goal and has demonstrated rapid growth of their club and talent.

"Since its inception, LAFC has provided young athletes the opportunity to play competitive soccer through financial support. With our new partnership, we hope that the association with Chelsea can attract and leverage additional funding scholarships, helping to further develop the academy and club.

"Providing elite training for young talent is critical to the long-term development of the sport in America."

The club will make its debut under the new LAFC Chelsea nameplate when its U-16 and U-18 teams take on the U.S. youth national teams on Nov. 29 in Los Angeles.

LAFC President Don Sheppard said: "LAFC was created to provide an affordable option for skilled players to play top-tier club soccer. We've been able to reach out to economically disadvantaged communities to recruit some of the best talent in the U.S.

"We are a young program and a partnership like this allows us to reach the next level on skill development, player participation and overall club exposure. We have a top-tier coaching staff and now with Chelsea our players will receive an international view of the game -- something they may not have received otherwise."

LAFC includes over 50 boys and girls teams with 800 players from ages eight to 18. Throughout the last year, the academy has placed seven players on U.S. national team rosters.

Chelsea's youth super club network began in July 2008 with the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) of North Carolina partnership. In November 2008, Chelsea announced a partnership with Match Fit Academy of New Jersey. LAFC is the third club to join Chelsea's network.


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