Less than 48 hours after finishing the worst season in franchise history, the Galaxy began the process of rebuilding. But anyone hoping for a dramatic makeover is likely to be disappointed since the team said Tuesday it intends to rebuild with many of the same parts.
Team President Chris Klein and general manager Pete Vagenas, the chief architects of a team that finished 8-18-8 and last in the MLS in 2017, are back for 2018, as is coach Sigi Schmid, whose role will be expanded to include all player-personnel responsibilities.
Vagenas will give up the GM title and return to his previous role as vice president of soccer operations, where he will oversee many of the Galaxy’s player-development activities.
“We are holding ourselves accountable and looking at this and trying to figure out what is the best way forward,” Klein said. “There is accountability, certainly, from top to bottom and we take responsibility for that, understanding that there are times you go through this.
“We made a big change in the last offseason and we need to continue to build and to add to that. And we’re confident that we can take steps forward.”
After Bruce Arena, the coach and GM who led the Galaxy to eight consecutive playoff appearances and three MLS titles in eight full seasons, left for the U.S. national team in November, the team replaced him with Vagenas and Galaxy II coach Curt Onalfo.
The Galaxy also remade their roster, jettisoning veterans Alan Gordon, Robbie Keane, Jeff Larentowicz, A.J. DeLaGarza, Dan Kennedy, Mike Magee and Landon Donovan, and replacing them with homegrown players and others from their development system, who combined to play a third of the Galaxy’s minutes.
The result was a franchise-record 18 losses, 67 goals given up and a minus-22 goal differential.
“Trying to make all these changes in a short amount of time, I think we underestimated a little bit the impact that would have,” Klein said. “We all have learned through this season. And so … we’re looking at it and saying ‘OK, how can we be better heading into 2018?”
Klein believes part of that solution will come from a greater emphasis on scouting.
“We know that we have to have an increase in scouting because our league continues to change and that continues to be a bigger part of what we need going forward,” he said. “So we will add to what we’re doing there and continue to sophisticate our scouting operations.
“It is coaching. It is our medical staff. And getting all of that team in place to a significant degree is our focus right now.”
Schmid, who had a 2-8-4 record after replacing Onalfo as coach in July, left for his first scouting trip immediately after Sunday’s season finale in Dallas. But as he begins the search for new talent, he also has decisions to make about some of the current players.
Designated players Romain Alessandrini, Gio dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos are signed for next season, as are defenders Michael Ciani and Hugo Arellano, midfielders Joao Pedro and Sebastian Lletget, and forward Gyasi Zardes. The Galaxy also are likely to pick up contract options on defenders Daniel Steres and Dave Romney, midfielder Emmanuel Boateng and Baggio Husidic and, perhaps, defender Ashley Cole.
Less certain is the status of midfielder Jermaine Jones, a Schmid favorite who will be 36 next season. He was paid $722,500 in 2017 and will likely seek a raise if he returns. However the Galaxy are sitting on a pile of cash after banking $500,000 in allocation money from D.C. United for the rights to midfielder Paul Arriola, which is good since Schmid’s offseason shopping list is a long one.
“Obviously, we’re looking to add some players,” said Schmid, who expects to have top assistant Dominic Kinnear back next year. “We want to add some players in some key positions down the middle of the field. We need to improve our defensive situation.
“We’re looking for players who are going to impact the first team. Then we also need depth as well.”