There were coaching changes that took place with the Burroughs High and Burbank boys' soccer programs during the offseason.
Allen Machuca is out with the Indians and has been replaced by former longtime Coach Mike Kodama, the winningest coach in program history and one of the most successful encompassing all Burroughs sports.
Taking over the Bulldogs' job is Loi Phan, who moves over from leading the girls' program. He takes over for Frank Chavez, whose teams struggled in recent years.
Kodama returns to the school after being inducted into the Burroughs Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. He served as the Indians' coach for 22 years before stepping down in 2009. His teams captured seven league titles, five in the Foothill League and two in the Pacific League.
Along with 244 victories and 110 league wins, his teams have garnered 12 CIF playoff appearances and he has coached 23 All-CIF players. His last season in 2009, the Indians (16-7-5) advanced to the Division IV quarterfinals, where they fell to No. 1-seeded Channel Islands, 1-0. Burroughs was also co-Pacific League champion. In 2008, the Indians won the Pacific League outright.
Phan has been trying to right a program that was in disarray and had its share of problems last season. Because of CIF Southern Section violations for fighting and excessive red cards a year ago, Burbank has been penalized this season and has been allowed just two nonleague contests.
Providence returns its coach in Kordo Doski. However, the Pioneers will have an inexperienced squad with few impact players.
Here is a closer look at how the season is shaping up.
Last season, the Indians went 9-3-3 and placed second in the Pacific League. Burroughs fell in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs to La Puente, 3-1.
"We actually don't return that many players," said Kodama, whose squad graduated 11 seniors from a year ago. "But they look good, they've come a long way and I'll think we'll be fine. They work really hard and there's a lot of skill there."
"We do have a lot of 10th-graders, more than normal. But they are very talented as well."
Two of the Indians' key returners are senior defender Julio Guillermo, who is in his third varsity season and senior midfielder Francisco Baez, who is also in his third varsity season.
"Those are a pair of seniors who've been playing for a while, so we are expecting big things from them," Kodama said about the two team captains. "We will need them to lead, and early on they have been great at helping us get back on the right track."
Kodama said he is also expecting good things from a group of returners: senior forward Alex Avelar-Escalante, senior defender Arturo Hernandez and junior defender Jorman Herrera.
Coming up from the junior varsity team is senior defender Ozzie Castro and a freshman who could make an immediate impact is midfielder Andres Aguilar, whose father Luis, played for Kodama on one of his league-title teams.
In goal will be junior Carlos Cortez.
In league, Kodama said he expects a tough fight from Crescenta Valley.
"CV won it the last two years, so they should be up there," he said. "Generally, most of the teams in the Pacific League this year will be good. I don't think there will be any weak teams. So, it's just a matter of figuring things out."
The Bulldogs (4-8-3 in league for sixth place) won't get much game experience before they open Pacific League play Jan. 3 at Pasadena.
"I'm taking over a team that definitely had its struggles the last couple of years," said Phan, about the squad failed to make the playoffs last season. "I'm just trying to rebuild a program and the guys have responded and been great. I'm just starting with the off-field stuff with the guys; like going to class, keeping up their grades and going along with the program. It's not about soccer as much as rebuilding the program internally."
Phan said having just two nonleague matches is not going to give his team the needed experience to get ready for league play."
"With the limited number of games we're going to have in the preseason it's going to be tough for us," he said. "We play our last game before league [Dec. 7] and we have sit out until all the way to January before be even play again. Us playing just two preseason games, that's what I'm dealing with."
Despite the lack of competition, Phan — who will carry nine seniors, eight juniors and one sophomore — said the Bulldogs should have their share of talent.
Leading the way is senior stopper Giancarlo Gamboa, junior center/midfielder Christian Garcia, senior midfielder David Hacobian, junior forward Dennis Palacio and senior midfielder John Trujillo.
"There are a few other guys, but they will be battling it out," Phan said.
The team's goalkeeper will be senior Ryan Tiegs.
Like Kodama, Phan said the Falcons should be the favorites to win the league this season.
"With me just jumping in here, and from what I've read from last year, I would have to think CV is going to be tough with all of talent they've got," he said.
The Pioneers won six matches last season, but a key player from that squad has graduated and another top player is playing in a soccer academy. That leaves Providence with almost no experience.
"I'm honestly fielding a team with just one club player. That is just crazy for a CIF varsity team in Southern California," Doski said. "We will be playing against teams that have club players coming off the bench.
"So, we will see what we can do. But although we don't have guys that have played before, we have a good group and there are three or four in particular who have really made an effort."
Providence returns just two starters, both juniors, and because of the lack of depth, Doski said both will be playing out of position."
The returners are sweeper Ando Boghokian, who is the lone club player, and center/midfielder Kop Asawalapsakun.
"Those guys are going to have to lead the way for us," Doski said. "Besides those two, I have only one other player who has even played AYSO."