Real-Life Cinderella Story: Fury’s Perez Signs with LAFC

by Gunnar Berndt

Ontario High School alum led MASL in scoring until joining MLS club’s preseason camp

By Gunnar Berndt

Ontario, Calif. – Ontario Fury goals and points leader Adrien Perez has signed with Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) ahead of the 2019 season, following his standout play in the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL). The move finalizes a fairytale-like accomplishment for the Inland Empire native, who attended Ontario High School and joined the Fury less than two years ago via one of the club’s open tryouts.

Said the 23-year-old about making the jump to LAFC and the highest level of outdoor soccer in North America, “It feels great and I am very grateful for the opportunity. I just want to give as much as I can to the team to try and help us win and learn as much as I can in the process.”

After spending four years at Loyola Marymount University, finishing fourth all-time with 21 goals in 63 appearances, Perez was recommended to Fury President Bernie Lilavois by Art Robles, a teacher and girls varsity coach at Ontario High School, who does work for the MASL side as a youth soccer groups coordinator. Robles would go on to pay for the then 21-year-old’s participation in the Fury’s open tryouts in the summer of 2017, where he instantly stood out to Lilavois and Head Coach Jimmy Nordberg.

Despite Ontario very narrowly missing the playoffs, Perez played a strong first season with the side, being named to the All-Rookie team after notching 27 tallies and 12 assists in 20 games. In the current campaign, the forward took his attacking heroics to a whole other level, leading the league in scoring as he helped his squad into a postseason position which it hopes to defend down the stretch. Perez has 20 goals and 5 assists in just ten MASL games in 2018-19.

“I was invited to LAFC preseason camp from having a good start to my Fury season,” remembered the technically gifted striker, who spent several weeks with the MLS club and showed well in tune-up games before being offered a contract.” It was high-level playing and training, so it took some adapting for me, especially the change from indoor to outdoor. I just took in the coaching staff’s information when they wanted to help me with my game and really tried to understand. Apparently I did well and my hard work and determination paid off.”

As he embarks on the next stage of his career, Perez reflected fondly on his time in the MASL, which earned him national exposure and no doubt helped bring about the LAFC opportunity.

“I really enjoyed my two seasons with the Fury coaching staff, Bernie Lilavois and my teammates,” he said. “It has played a big role in my development, as I realized how much work I had to do between year one and year two and what it takes to make the playoffs. Now I’m rooting for the guys to finish what we started.”

Fury President Lilavois was full of praise for his team’s former attacker and offered his take on the significance of the news to the standing of the MASL within the overall North American soccer landscape.

Said the indoor legend. “Adrien truly deserves this for his commitment to improvement, which manifested itself in his excellent performances for us in the first half of our campaign. While it hurts on the field to lose a player of his caliber, we couldn’t be more proud and excited for Adrien and wish him nothing but the best with LAFC.”

Lilavois continued, “After seeing former outdoor stars like Landon Donovan and Dwayne DeRosario join our league, we are now showing that the technicality, physicality and quick decision-making required in the MASL can also be extremely valuable in preparing players aspiring to move to MLS. As our sport continues to grow, I expect it to expand this role and be viewed as an increasingly attractive option for top youth and college level talent around the country.”

Battling for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division, the Ontario Fury travels to take on RGV Barracudas FC on Sunday, February 24, and the Monterrey Flash on Monday, February 25, as it kicks off a challenging four-game road swing. The team returns home on Sunday, March 24, for a massive clash with the El Paso Coyotes. Tickets to all contests at Citizens Business Bank Arena may be purchased by calling 909-457-0252 or by clicking here.