Sports Medicine & Science Department

Sports Science 2

Ivan Pierra - Director of Sports Science

After working with the Galaxy for over 10 years from 1996-2008, Pierra, the first trainer in Galaxy history, returned to the club as the Sports Science Department Director in September of 2014 after working for U.S. Soccer Federation. The veteran sports science professional is one of only two athletic trainers in Galaxy history, replacing Armando Rivas who accepted a position with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA.

In the Galaxy’s inaugural season in 1996, Pierra began his initial stint with the Galaxy, where he worked as the athletic trainer for over 10 years before accepting a full-time position as Head Athletic Trainer for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2008. Prior to then, he had freelanced on the U.S. Soccer Federation staff, including time working with then head coach Bruce Arena. In all, Pierra has worked in four FIFA World Cup tournaments (1994, 1998, 2010, 2014) with the U.S. Soccer Federation, serving as the Head Athletic Trainer in 2010 and 2014 under head coaches Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann.

Pierra began his professional career in in 1993 after he started working as an athletic trainer for the soccer team Los Angeles Salsa in the American Professional Soccer League. He attended Cal State-Fullerton University from 1990-1993, where he earned a degree in physical education before receiving his Masters of Science in kinesiology in 1999.

Using sports science and medicine programs, Pierra is responsible for monitoring all aspects of player health and fitness for the LA Galaxy, LA Galaxy II and LA Galaxy Academy.

Javier Valdecantos - Performance Coach

Valdecantos joined the team as a Performance Coach in January 2019.

Valdecantos was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and joined Schelotto’s staff at Boca Juniors when he was hired in 2016. Valdecantos has worked for professional clubs in Argentina, Spain, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Mexico

Adam Waterson - Head Strength & Conditioning Coach

Waterson joined the club’s performance team as Head of Strength and Conditioning in January 2018.

Waterson has extensive experience in working with various professional soccer teams throughout Australia and Asia in the National Soccer League, A-League and K-League. These teams include Parramatta Power, 2004 Australian Olympic Soccer Team, Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets, Western Sydney Wanderers and FC Seoul.

Waterson graduated from Catholic University in Exercise and Sports Science. Adam is a Level 2 Strength & Conditioning Coach with the Australian Strength & Conditioning Association (ASCA). He also holds an Elite Coach qualification through the ASCA. Adam is currently obtaining his FFA C-Coaching license. 

His main roles are to assist the Director of Sports Performance on the field, assist the training staff with end-stage rehab and lead the LA Galaxy strength program. Adam was born in Baulkham Hills, Sydney, Australia.

William Sparkes - Sports Scientist

Sparkes joins the Galaxy for the 2018 season from the English Premier League, where he worked as a sports scientist for Swansea City AFC for the previous five years. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, he graduated from Swansea University with a degree in sports science in 2013 and has worked in soccer since. 

Sparkes has published a series of research studies monitoring the fatigue and recovery profiles following soccer matches and has a master’s degree in applied physiology. Alongside his work as a practitioner, Sparkes continues his studies for a PhD in the area of training periodization; more specifically by researching the physiological responses to concurrent training methods in soccer players. 

Sparkes’ primary role with the Galaxy is to monitor the physical performance of players during training and matches, with the aim of maximizing performance whilst minimizing injury risk. He also assists the Director of Sports Performance and the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach in the design and delivery of fitness programs.

Brooke Ellison - Sports Performance Dietitian

2018 marked Ellison’s first season with the Galaxy as the head Sports Performance Dietitian. She previously acted as the sports nutrition intern for the club for two seasons and became the interim sports performance dietitian in August 2017. Her role is to oversee the nutrition of all players with an individualized approach to meet positional demands, enhance athletic performance, promote more effective recovery, and assist in illness and injury prevention.

Ellison’s interest in nutrition began as a competitive youth athlete and became a passion during her time as an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico where she was an All-American member of the Division 1 women’s soccer team. Nutrition was extremely impactful for her own performance, recovery and injury prevention, and this experience created a desire to pursue a career helping elite athletes maximize their own performance with nutrition.

Ellison is Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist credentialed and also holds a Master’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from California State University, Long Beach.

Nicolette Leffler - Sports Performance Dietitian & Education Coordinator

Leffler joined the Galaxy Sports Science Department staff in January 2018 as the Sports Performance Dietitian and Education Coordinator. Prior to this, she worked with NCAA Division 1 collegiate athletes in sports nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In her role as sports performance dietitian, Leffler focuses on the athletes’ specific nutrition and hydration needs to help them achieve peak performance, recover efficiently from training sessions and matches, and exhibit resilience to illness and injury. As the education coordinator, she implements and manages nutrition education programs and coordinates the educational course logistics for high-level youth athletes in the Galaxy Academy.

Leffler attended UCLA, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in psychobiology before receiving her Master’s of Science in nutritional science. Leffler was a four-year member and captain of the UCLA Dance Team and later danced professionally for the Los Angeles Laker Girls dance team. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credentialed through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Cesar Roldan - Assistant Athletic Trainer, MS, ATC

Roldan, a native of Los Angeles, CA and joins the LA Galaxy after serving as the Head Athletic Trainer for the Colorado Rapids. He has previous experience working as the Head Athletic Trainer for Orange County Blues Soccer Club and previous internships with Chivas USA, Seattle Sounders, and Los Angeles Galaxy. He received his undergraduate Kinesiology Degree from California State University, Long Beach and Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Science from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

Roldan’s primary role with the organization is to assist the Head Athletic Trainer in day-to-day preventative and rehabilitative medicine while working in conjunction with the Performance and Nutrition department to ensure the highest quality of care available to athletes.

Shunta Shimizu - Chiropractor and Scar Tissue Specialist

Shunta Shimizu enters his ninth season with the Galaxy as the club’s Chiropractor and Scar Tissue Specialist. He was invited to be an intern with the Galaxy in the beginning of 2005 season after treating Cobi Jones and Peter Vagenas.

 

 

Chief Medical Officer, Team Orthopedist — Bert Mandelbaum

Dr. Mandelbaum is a 1980 medical graduate of Washington University Medical School in St. Louis who completed his residency in Orthopedic Surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and fellowship in Sports Medicine at UCLA. He served on the faculty at UCLA from 1986-89 and subsequently joined the Santa Monica Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group. He presently practices there, serving as the Director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and of the Research and Education Foundation and the Medical Director for the FIFA Medical Center of Excellence in Santa Monica. He is also the Director of Research for Major League Baseball (MLB). He serves on the USOC National Medical Network Advisory Group. He was also appointed as Chief Medical Officer for the World Special Olympic Games 2015 in LA. As a team physician, Dr. Mandelbaum has worked with UCLA Athletics (1985-1989) and Pepperdine University (1990-present), LA Galaxy, and Chivas USA MLS teams. He was the Chief Medical Officer for Women's World Cup Soccer in 1999 and 2003, US Soccer Men's National Teams Physician since 1991, and the assistant Medical Director for Major League Soccer since 1996. He also served as USA Team Physician for Soccer World Cups '94 in the USA, '98 in France, 2002 in Japan and Korea, Germany in 2006, and South Africa in 2010. He served as FIFA medical officer for Brazil World Cup 2014.

Primary Care Physician — Josh Scott, MD

Dr. Joshua Scott is a board-certified specialist in Sports Medicine with over a decade of experience treating athletes in southern California. He was a Division I track and field athlete at Clemson University and received his medical degree and residency in pediatrics from the Medical University of South Carolina. After residency, he completed a fellowship in primary care sports medicine at the University of South Carolina. He currently practices at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute as a primary care sports medicine physician and is volunteer faculty at the University of Southern California. Dr. Scott has worked with the U.S. Track and Field team at the Olympic Trials and U.S Championships in 2016. He has served as a medical consultant for the Los Angeles Dodgers and he currently serves as the lead primary care physician for the Galaxy.

Team Neuropsychologist — Dave Lechuga, PhD

Team Dentist — Ray Padilla, DDS

Dr. Padilla is on faculty at the UCLA School of Dentistry. His involvement in sports dentistry includes the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games, 1994, 1999, and 2003 World Cup Soccer, 2004 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Prague and 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics. He is the Team Dentist for UCLA Athletics 1996-present, Los Angeles Lakers 2016-present and Los Angeles Galaxy 1996-present. Dr. Padilla has published many articles on mouthguards, trauma treatment and prevention and organized www.sportsdentistry.com. His chapter on Trauma Treatment and Athletic Mouthguards was published in the textbook “A Clinical Guide to Dental Traumatology” by Mosby/Elsevier. An international speaker, he has lectured in Australia, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Spain, Mexico, United Arab Emirates and numerous USA venues. He maintains a private practice in Manhattan Beach, California.

Team Chiropractors

George Billauer, DC

Dr. George Billauer has been a member of the Galaxy medical staff since the team's inception in 1996. A 1977 graduate of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, he has extensive experience in the sports medicine arena. His career has included providing services to organizations such as the LA Dodgers, the LA Kings, the US Olympic Team and UCLA Men's Basketball. His passion is soccer and he is proud to also have been the Team Chiropractor for the US Men's National Team since 1992. His experience with the USMNT spans over 300 matches and 5 World Cups.

Eric Pierra, DC

Dr. Pierra joined the LA Galaxy Medical Staff in 1997. Dr. Pierra is a spinal and extremity manipulation specialist who has worked regularly with the team throughout the years and has been on hand for all the Galaxy's Championship games. Dr. Pierra began his professional career in 1995 after graduating from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and obtaining a license to practice in the state of California. Dr. Pierra has worked periodically with the Men's and Women's National Soccer Team as well. He currently practices in Irvine, CA.

Rion Zimmerman, DC

In 2013 Dr Zimmerman was asked to serve as one of the team chiropractors for the Galaxy and in 2014 the US women’s national soccer team. Dr. Zimmerman has obtained the postgraduate designation of Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician * (CCSP ® ) by the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians™ (ACBSP™). The CCSP ® certification provides Dr. Zimmerman with knowledge specific to physical fitness and the evaluation and treatment of injuries encountered in sports including concussion protocols.This training aids the doctor in the prevention and treatment of athletic injuries by enhancing his diagnostic skills and patient care. He currently owns and operates two clinics in La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale, CA.

Team Ophthalmologist – Rom Kandavel, MD

Dr. Rom Kandavel performs cutting edge cataract and laser eye surgery at the Colvard-Kandavel Eye Center. He recognized as one of the leading eye specialists in Los Angeles and lectures internationally to advance the field of ophthalmic surgery. Dr. Kandavel grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He graduated from the renowned Harvard-Westlake high school. He then attended UCLA, where he received his degree in Biology and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude. Dr. Kandavel received his medical degree from UC Davis Medical School where he graduated at the top of his class with AOA honors on a full academic scholarship. In 2013, Dr. Kandavel was chosen as the Team Ophthalmologist for the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, and he also provided eye care for the U.S. Men's National Team competing in the 2014 World Cup games in Brazil.

Team Podiatrist — Howard Liebeskind

Dr Liebeskind is team podiatrist to the U.S. Men's and Women's National Soccer teams and has served the United States Soccer Federation for the past 25 years. In this capacity he has participated in a combined 12 FIFA World Cups. Liebeskind has served as team podiatrist to the Los Angeles Galaxy since the team's inception in 1996. In addition, he is also team and consulting podiatrist to the UCLA and Pepperdine University Athletic Departments. Dr Liebeskind maintains an active practice in the Los Angeles community of West Hills.

Active Release Specialist — Shunta Shimizu, DC