Raptors Outdoor League Change and New Men's Head Coach

As things are starting to take shape here in Cedar Rapids for the upcoming 2021 outdoor season, we are going to start your Monday off right with some of the latest Raptor news!

Recently the Iowa Raptors have come to terms with the UPSL as we are having a league change for this summer’s season. With the Raptors joining the UPSL, this means additional local games for our in-state/ Midwest friends!

But what’s a team without a coach? We would like to announce the signing of Jose Michel Fajardo as our new men’s head coach! You might know Jose from our neighboring town, Mt. Vernon, as he is the head women’s soccer coach at Cornell College (2016-Present). He guided the Rams to a memorable 12-6-2 season in 2019 that culminated with the program's first conference tournament berth in 11 years. Cornell finished 6-1-2 in league play and earned the No. 2 seed in the MWC Tournament. The 2019 squad recorded the third-most wins in school history and posted 10 shutouts. The Rams, picked eighth in the MWC Preseason Coaches' Poll, notched the program's first 10-win season since 2002. The competitive 2018 team recorded six shutouts and allowed only 1.52 goals per match. Fajardo inherited a 2-15 team in his first year at the helm in 2016. A native of Seville, Spain, Fajardo brings a wealth of soccer experience to the Iowa Raptors FC, including as a professional player overseas. He has been head coach at Iowa City High School since 1998, the past 17 years directing the City High boys’ team. Fajardo has compiled a 376-98 overall record in 24 seasons coaching the Iowa City High boys and girls soccer programs. He led the boys program to eight consecutive state tournaments, highlighted by runner-up showings in 2016, 2013 and 2010. Fajardo was named Class 3A Boys State Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2010, and has garnered MVC Coach of the Year honors five times. Fajardo piloted the 2017 Iowa City High boys team to a 20-3 record and a berth in the state semifinals. He was named Iowa State High School and Mississippi Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2016 after guiding the Little Hawks (20-1 overall) to their first-ever undefeated regular season. The 2016 Little Hawks allowed only four goals in 16 regular-season matches and recorded 18 total shutouts. The team was ranked No. 1 in the state and in the Midwest Region. Fajardo was named “1st ALL-IOWA BOYS SOCCER COACH OF THE YEAR”. Fajardo posted an impressive 108-14 mark with the girls team from 1998-2004, leading the Little Hawks to six consecutive MVC championships and three state tournament appearances (4th place in 2001, 3rd in 2002 and 2003). Fajardo was twice voted MVC Girls Coach of the Year. Since 2011, Fajardo has spent time in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Sereno Soccer Club as director of the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), the top league in the country for girls 14-18. Fajardo’s 2013 team was crowned ECNL national champions. He was also an Iowa ODP coach and a Region II coach. Fajardo was a top-flight professional player in Spain, which featured stints with Granada Club de Futbol (1988-91, 1994-96), Real Club Recreativo de Huelva (1993-94) and Real Betis Balompie (1991-94). He was a member of the Spanish National Team for multiple years, including the U20 World Cup squad. Fajardo played on the Andalucia regional team that captured U15 and U16 national championships. He was named “Best Midfielder” at the U15 national tournament and awarded the “Future Star” trophy on the Spanish U16 National Team. Fajardo earned his USSF “ PRO B” License in 2000 and has held the USSF “A” License – U.S. soccer’s highest professional license – since 2001-02. Fajardo also holds the UEFA Pro License and the NCAA Premier soccer License. Fajardo held previous full-time positions as technical director and head coach of Eastern Iowa United (2010-11), Iowa Soccer Club-Eastern Iowa United (2004-10) and Iowa City Alliance Soccer Club (1997-2004). Fajardo was head women’s coach at Mount Mercy College (1997-98) and volunteer women’s assistant at the University of Iowa (2004-05). Fajardo has worked collegiate soccer camps at the University of Notre Dame (2001-2015), Stanford University (2003-08) and Indiana University (2006-10). Professionally, coach Fajardo has coached in Spain with Xerez CF, Algeciras FC and Real Betis Balompie. Fajardo and his wife Susan reside in Iowa City with their son Micah, 8, and daughter Monet, 5.

If you are looking to become part of the Iowa Raptors family, be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @iaraptorsfc and find us on the team’s official website www.iowaraptorsfc.com