With Sigi Schmid now in charge of player decisions, have the Galaxy done enough to clean house?
The offseason started briskly for the LA Galaxy on Tuesday when the club announced general manager Pete Vagenas was re-assigned and again will take over as vice president of soccer operations — a position he originally held in 2016.
Head Coach Sigi Schmid now will assume all player personnel responsibilities in effectively assuming general manager duties.
“The results this season did not meet the standard and expectations of this club, our fans and this city,” Galaxy President Chris Klein said in a statement released by the team. “Sigi has a proven track record building championship-caliber teams in MLS. He understands this league, its players, and its structure as well as anyone in soccer and we have full confidence in him as we enter this offseason to strengthen our roster ahead of 2018.
“Pete has been an important member of this club on and off the field and will continue to play a part in our club as the vice president of soccer operations.”
Under the direction of Vagenas, the Galaxy gave a raise to former defender Jelle Van Damme, who left the club and returned to his native Belgium; paid more than $720,000 to Jermaine Jones, who missed 14 games because of injuries; signed Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan dos Santos to designated player contracts; paid about $600,000 in transfer fees for Portuguese midfielder João Pedro and briefly found an apparent replacement at right back in Dutchman Pele van Anholt, who then suffered a serious knee injury and whose playing future appears uncertain.
Vagenas’ last bit of business was signing French central defender Michael Ciani to an estimated 18-month contract for $620,000 per year.
Vagenas also failed to secure a striker in the summer transfer window that left the Galaxy without a viable scoring option for the remainder of the year.
The Galaxy, who finished with the worst record in Major League Soccer this season (8-18-8) and won just three of 17 home games, clearly are hoping Vagenas’ demotion leads to some of its former glory. By most accounts, however, that could be a herculean task.
Schmid, the winningest coach in MLS history, now faces the challenge of rebuilding a Galaxy roster that was short in almost every area. He already departed for his first scouting trip as the man in charge of acquiring the talent necessary for the Galaxy to return to respectability in 2018.
“I am excited for the opportunity to build the LA Galaxy roster into one that is capable of competing for championships,” Schmid said in a club statement. “The Galaxy continue to have tremendous support from (AEG President) Dan Beckerman, Mr. (AEG CEO Philip) Anschutz and AEG in every aspect of operations and I look forward to further aligning and improving the LA Galaxy, Galaxy II and our academy.
“This offseason is vital as we look ahead to the coming season and we will begin the efforts necessary to strengthen our roster immediately.”
Schmid will need all the help he can get. With Dominic Kinnear as his assistant coach and the possibility of Schmid’s son Kurt joining the technical staff as well, the Galaxy may be pointed in the right direction.
But in terms of the Galaxy front office little, if anything, has changed. Vagenas still has a parking spot and desk at StubHub Center and Klein continues to reign over the organization. Beckerman also still will be watching the progress of a team that went from perennial contender to the butt of MLS jokes in less than 365 days.
About the only person who seems to have taken the fall for the worst season in Galaxy history is former head coach Curt Onalfo, who was replaced by Schmid and apparently didn’t have the final say in personnel despite having the team within striking distance of a playoff spot before he was fired. No one will say he was the best coach to grace the field, but by all accounts, he did the best with what he had.
The Galaxy will have a lot of fences to mend with players and fans alike entering 2018. But for now, they’re hoping with a simple shuffle of the deck credibility and belief in the organization will be restored.