Chris Klein, LA Galaxy President, told the LATimes and Kevin Baxter today that Landon Donovan would not be returning to the team in 2017. Klein told the LA Times “With Landon, when he came back, it was always going to be a short-term thing.”
Donovan had returned to the team late in 2016 to help overcome some of the injury issues the LA Galaxy had suffered. And he originally retired at the conclusion of the 2014 season where the LA Galaxy helped Donovan ride into the sunset with an MLS Cup. And while Donovan did positively impact the team down the stretch, scoring a goal and playing in nine games including all three games in the playoffs. But ultimately had to come out of their playoff loss to Colorado with an injury.
It was always going to be a question mark on whether Donovan would return for the upcoming season. But with Bruce Arena, and seemingly the entire LA Galaxy Coaching Staff departing for the USMNT, there may not be a reason for Landon to return. Arena and Donovan always had a special relationship with Bruce coaching Donovan on the National Team and coming into an LA Galaxy team that saw Donovan and David Beckham at odds with each other in 2008.
It should also be pointed out that Landon Donovan doesn’t operate the same way that most professional athletes do. He’s much more introspective while also understanding he plays a game for a living. He’s always been very clear that he doesn’t need soccer to be happy. This isn’t to downplay his competitiveness, his desire to win, or his leadership. But if Bruce Arena was going to return to the Galaxy in 2017, I think Donovan would’ve considered playing. But with Arena across the hall at US Soccer, the decision was probably a lot easier for Donovan this time.
ANY ANSWERS IN FINDING A COACH?
The LA Galaxy are still without a head coach and newly named General Manager Pete Vagenas is in the midst of rebuilding a team that will now have said goodbye to Bruce Arena, Dave Sarachan, Steven Gerrard, and Robbie Keane since their run in the playoffs ended on November 6.
With MLS Cup less than a week away, and an expansion draft and roster decisions needing to be made, the LA Galaxy are behind the eightball. They’re also on the hunt for two designated players and will need to come to terms with who will be returning next year. There is no room for error as LAFC makes it’s debut in Major League Soccer in 2018.
The first step is to get a Head Coach and it seems that both Grant Wahl and Kevin Baxter are reporting that LA Galaxy II Head Coach and former Head Coach with Kansas City and DC United, Curt Onalfo, is the top internal candidate. Baxter also conveyed Onalfo’s top position on our podcasts earlier in the month.
Kevin is also reporting that former LA Galaxy player and current Columbus Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and former LA Galaxy Head Coach Sigi Schmid may also be under consideration.
Berhalter is probably the first choice but getting him away from Columbus, where he’s the Sporting Director as well as the Head Coach, may be difficult. But in Columbus, he’s taken to younger talent and a reduced budget to find value. Something the LA Galaxy may be shifting towards.
Regardless of who the LA Galaxy pick, the pressure to continue Bruce Arena’s success will be monumental. I forsee a very short leash for any Head Coach who takes over in Los Angeles and on-the-field results and player decisions are quickly going to determine the future succes of this team.