Mike Munoz continues his rapid rise as he joins the LA Galaxy Academy coaching staff.

CARSON, Calif. – Former LA Galaxy midfielder Mike Muñoz returned to the club on Wednesday as he became a member of the Galaxy Academy coaching staff.

A former Academy coach with Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake, Muñoz has also spent time as an assistant coach with Chivas and the U.S. Under-15 national team.

On Wednesday, I spoke to Muñoz about his new position and how his move to the Galaxy came about.

My conversation with the new LA Galaxy Academy coach is below…

LA GALAXY INSIDER: (On how his move from Chivas USA materialized…)

MUNOZ: “[Galaxy Academy Director Pete Vagenas] approached Chivas to begin to have conversations with me, and obviously, Chivas granted permission to have those conversations. I knew Pete from years of playing [in MLS], but when he gave me a phone call and we met, the reality is that the opportunity was too good to pass up. I’m very excited about Pete being the Academy Director. I loved his vision for this club and where he wants to take the academy, especially with the full support of [Galaxy head coach and general manager] Bruce Arena and [LA Technical Director] Jovan Kirovski. It was a no-brainer after that.”

LAGI: (On what he might have gained from working with Chivas…)

MUNOZ: “When I originally came over from Salt Lake, I was able to work with the first team under former [Chivas USA] coaches Robin Fraser and Greg Vanney for almost two years. That experience at the first team level and being able to bring it back to the kids, such as what it takes to be a professional, is the biggest thing that I got out of it.”

LAGI: (On what the past season was like with Chivas…)

MUNOZ: “100 percent, this [past season] was the hardest challenge of my young coaching career. My number one priority was to protect my players and the academy players from everything that was happening on the outside, and just making sure that we focused on our objectives and goals to further their development as we had done over the past two years. I think that I did a pretty good job of that, but at the same time, it was very challenging.”

LAGI: (You say that you protected the players, what does that mean?)

MUNOZ: “I just told them to try and stay focused, and not worry about what is happening with the first team or Academy Director [Teddy Chronopoulos] getting fired. [I told them] just to make sure that they were focused on their own development and our team. For the most part, we did a good job by getting to the playoffs and winning the Southwest conference. We fell short [of an Academy title], but I think for the most part, everyone is going to walk away a better person and better player.”

LAGI: (On how the Academy will change under Peter Vagenas and how he plans to help…)

MUNOZ: “Listen, first and foremost, our number one objective is to produce players for the first team, and produce players for Bruce’s eyes—players that can jump right in immediately and contribute. Everything that Bruce does with his staff will be implemented all the way down to the Academy. At the same time, our academy teams need to have an identity for themselves as well. Pete’s vision is to create this top-to-bottom unification of style, systems and all that kind of stuff.  Like I said, our number one objective is producing not only a good player for the first team, but also a good human being.”

LAGI: (On his thoughts on the Galaxy Academy after being an outsider…)

MUNOZ: “One of the biggest reasons why I came over was because the Galaxy, in my opinion, is the best and biggest club in the country with the best talent pool in Southern California. It’s only a matter of time before we’re going to blow this thing up and really become the dominant force in the Development Academy out of all the clubs in MLS.”

LAGI: (On how he changes the Galaxy’s reputation of a “recruiting” academy…)

MUNOZ: “Listen, it’s a process. It starts all the way to our affiliate clubs with our younger kids, U-12’s, and making it go all the way up. From what I hear and what I see, our 10 and 11-year-olds that we’re starting through this system are very exciting. Our U-14’s are one of the best teams in the country, so listen, it’s a process and it’s going to take time to see the fruits of our labor. But we’re starting to scratch the surface of what the potential could be.”

LAGI: (On any interesting players that he sees on the roster…)

MUNOZ:Haji Wright is a kid who has been part of the U-15 national team and a kid that I got to work with on national team camps. He really has a bright future and I would say that he’s the most exciting player that I can think of right now.”

LAGI: (On whether he’ll stay active in the U.S. Under-15 National Team…)

MUNOZ: “That’s only a part time job with camps and tournaments. As far as I know, I’ll continue to work with that. The club is very supportive of me working with the national team, so that will continue.”

LAGI: (On his growth over the past few years…)

MUNOZ: “Making this move finally is what I’ve always envisioned, what I’ve always wanted, and what always strived for in my career. Coming to the Galaxy there is going to be more growth in my development as a coach. Whether it’s working with the U-23’s or the reserves or other opportunities to be a part of the first team down the road, was very intriguing for my move. It’s been a rapid increase in my career and I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’ve had a lot of important mentors as well. I’ve just tried to learn from all the positive and negative experiences, and I know that will continue here as well.”