Exodus from Galaxy continues but team is preparing a response
Most of the attention this Galaxy off-season has focused on the people leaving StubHub Center rather than on those coming in.
That exodus continued Wednesday when U.S. Soccer confirmed that four Galaxy assistants will follow Bruce Arena to the national team. Less than two hours later, forward Mike Magee announced that he, too, was leaving, retiring after a 14-year MLS career.
Galaxy President Chris Klein said he will soon hire a coaching staff and sign as many as two big-name additions to a thin midfield. However, the team may have to do more than that to make itself whole again.
Since their 2016 season ended in the Western Conference semifinals, the Galaxy have lost three former league most valuable players in Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Magee; a former team defender of the year in Leonardo; midfielders Steven Gerrard and Jeff Larentowicz; and its entire first-team coaching staff led by Arena, a five-time MLS Cup winner and the most successful coach and general manager in league history.
It has left Klein with a lot of vacancies. In November, he appointed Peter Vagenas general manager and two weeks later promoted Curt Onalfo, coach of the Galaxy’s USL affiliate, to the first-team job. Still open is the rest of Onalfo’s staff as well as coaching positions with the Galaxy II developmental team and spots on the first-team roster.
Yet, for Klein, filling that many coaching positions at one time presents a welcome chance to remake the staff from top to bottom.
“We’ve looked at all of our staff, from our academy to our first team, as one integrated vision,” he said. “It will be a much more cohesive unit going forward.
“The foundation of our club has always been there. But we have an opportunity to integrate that vision and Curt has bought into that. And we will get a staff … that’s all pulling in the same direction.”
Among those who have gone is Dave Sarachan, Arena’s longtime assistant with the Galaxy and U.S. national team and a former MLS coach of the year with the Chicago Fire. Sarachan, the Galaxy’s associate head coach, resigned in November, a few days before Arena accepted the national team job.
Also leaving the Galaxy for the U.S. team are assistants Pat Noonan and Kenny Arena, Bruce’s son, as well as goalkeeper coach Matt Reis.
Klein said the new hires will come from inside and outside the team, although he declined to identify any candidates. Among those on staff is Rob Becerra, Onalfo’s assistant with Galaxy II, and seven coaches from the team’s academy system.
On the field, Klein said the core is set with Gyasi Zardes and Giovani dos Santos in attacking roles and the backline of Ashley Cole, Jelle Van Damme, Daniel Steres and Robbie Rogers expected to return. Brian Rowe, who had a breakout year in goal, is also back.
The Galaxy is thin in the midfield, a position that plagued them in 2016. To address that, Klein is negotiating with Jermaine Jones, who played for Colorado last season. He declined to discuss details of those talks but the Galaxy are hopeful they can sign Jones with targeted-allocation money from the league.
With the winter transfer window now open, the Galaxy are also stepping up their pursuit of at least one designated player. Earlier this winter the team had been linked to Milan’s Keisuke Honda, but a Galaxy official said Wednesday they are no longer interested in the Japanese midfielder.
“We’ve had conversations with DPs from overseas and those will continue,” said Klein, who added that the team is focused exclusively on central midfielders.
“We’re not getting the best player and fitting him in,” he said. “We’re very targeted in how we’re going about these [signings].”