Meet Our Trainers!

Featuring some of our newer GFSC & CAPS trainers

Erich Halpern

Meet Eric Halpern.

Teams: CAPS 2007B Monaco

Coaching Experience:

Eric has over 20 years experiencing coaching several high school and club teams including the Harrison High School Girls, Plainfield High School Boys, Middlesex High School Boys,  NJ Fire Football Club, Kearny Thistle, and Valencia Soccer Academy.  Eric was named the 2019 Greater Middlesex Conference Coach of the Year and the 2020 and Home News Tribune Coach of the Year.

Playing Experience:  

  • Harrison High School - All State
  • Scots-American Club (semi-pro) Garden State League & Cosmopolitan League
  • Tri-County Over 40 League


  • USSF: F License, E License, D License

Coaching Philosophy:  Most important: if the game isn't fun, then something is wrong.  I believe if you have knowledge, then pass it on to those who don't.  Soccer, like many other sports, prepares children for life, working as a team or as a team player.  All this brings hard work, responsibility, integration and creativity. 

Fun Fact: I ride a Harley Davidson

Favorite Club: Liverpool

Santiago Salme

Meet Santiago Salme

Team: CAPS 07G Chelsea 

Coaching Experience:  Santiago has experience across all levels of soccer, including 8 years at the collegiate level and 16 years coaching high school, grassroot and developmental academies including Olympic Development in NY and NJ.

Playing Experience:  

  • Semi professional USL - Waldwick Kickers, Kearny Scotts
  • MLS Pro Sports with Tampa Reserve in Cocoa Beach, FL
  • Rutgers University 4 year scholar athlete


  • USSF: A, B, C
  • United Soccer Coaches Director of Coaching, Special Topics, Youth National Diploma
  • Various soccer camps and workshops - Liverpool, Real Madrid, Arsenal

Coaching Philosophy:  I believe that player development is child-centered. and the need to understand the different phases of development are aligned with a complete and detailed understanding in sports performance consisting of the player's physical needs and also their social, emotional and cognitive needs.  Utilizing my educational roots, I know that adapting a teaching methodology to meet the player's needs significantly improves their progress in soccer and prepares them well to tackle external obstacles off the field.  My players will approach my practices with a growth mindset as we enjoy the beautiful game.

Fun Fact: I love my 49ers as I grew up watching Joe Montana and had him as my role model athlete growing up.

Favorite Club: Real Madrid - Luka Modric is my current favorite player


Meet Michael Portillo

Teams:  2005B Rangers, 2010B Lightning, 2013G Shooting Stars

Coaching Experience:  

  • Cedar Stars Academy Bronx
  • New York Force SC

Playing Experience:  Coach Michel was invited to join FC Utrecht Academy in Holland, in a camp organized by the club's NA Academy. After a careful inspection of Michael's talent, FC Utrecht decided to invite him over to train with the Academy’s U15s. Next, Michael proceeded to play and train with NPSL Semi-Professional club Clarkstown Eagles’s Reserves at 16 years of age. Following his involvement with the Semi-professional side, Michael was invited to compete in the most prestigious youth tournament in the world, The Viareggio Cup, in Italy. There he was able to play against some of the world’s best clubs like A.C Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Empoli F.C and more. Michael scored his first internationally competitive goal vs CAI, from Argentina. Soon after, Michael committed to The Monroe College Express where he studied Accounting, and Finance at the 4-year university. Michael was key to the Express's success their first year in action, where they were undefeated for 8 games running, taking out champions Nassau CC. Later in 2018, Michael spent preseason with CD Real Sociedad from Honduras. Following two ACL injuries, Portillo has now taken on a new challenge, to provide players with his knowledge so that they can be the best version of themselves, as players and model citizens. 


  • NJYS State Certification F License

Coaching Philosophy:  To provide quality coaching by focusing on the mastery of technique and encouraging creativity.  By having players master technical skills like dribbling, 1v1s, shooting and passing at an early age, they will be able to excel in any position on the field.  Players who are creative on and off the ball will have an easier time solving tricky and complicated situations.  The combination of these 2 things along with the fun and enjoyment of the beautiful game will lead to a brilliant future player and/or coach.

Fun Fact:  Player soccer is art, the field is the paper, the ball is the pen, and you are the artist.

Favorite Club: Liverpool F.C.

Peter Failla

Meet Peter Failla

Teams: Peter is the goalkeeper coach for all CAPS Premier NJ and GFSC Travel Teams

Coaching Experience:  Peter has over 11 years experience with Recreational, Travel and Premier-level club soccer with a focus on youth goalkeeper development.


  • USSF NJ Youth Soccer F License
  • USSF National E License
  • USSF Grassroots License
  • United Soccer Coaches: Level 1 Goalkeeping Diploma, Level 2 Goalkeeping Diploma, and Level 3 Diploma scheduled for June 2022

Coaching Philosophy:  Goalkeeping is such a unique position.  I want to instill decision making in our goalkeepers from a young age, demonstrate proper techniques, and teach our keepers how to communicate in a positive, yet commanding way with their teammates.  Once they have that foundation, they can develop on their own unique trajectory.

Fun Fact:  I prefer taking care of the Clover Hill field grass more than my own lawn!  (Peter is also the Club's Director of Fields, a Board of Directors position).

Favorite Club:  Philadelphia Union, Sampdoria, and Liverpool