The LA Galaxy are coming off the worst season in franchise history, but a last-place finish in Major League Soccer apparently did nothing to hurt the status of team president Chris Klein.
If nothing else, Klein proved he has some staying power. He showed such skill during a 13-year MLS playing career and did it again when he recently was granted a five-year contract extension that could keep him in the front office through the 2023 season. A formal announcement is expected later this week.
Klein went from a Galaxy player to Senior Director of the LA Galaxy Academy in 2010. Then he progressed into the vice president role in 2012 before making the jump, in 2013, to team president — a position in which he oversees all aspects of business operations, strategic planning, and overall club management.
His quick progression up the many rungs of the front office ladder was due mostly to former AEG President Tim Leiweke recognizing Klein’s business acumen while he was still a player. With Bruce Arena’s blessing and help, the Indiana University graduate went from running on the grass to running the entire organization in just four years.
He won his only MLS Cup as the man in charge in 2014. But last season saw the five-time Cup champions plummet to an embarrassing 8-18-8 record and earn the dubious honor of claiming the “wooden spoon,” which is awarded to the team that finishes last in the league. The Galaxy won a franchise-low three games at home in 2017, fired head coach Curt Onalfo and demoted general manager Pete Vagenas to a lesser role in the organization.
Klein, however, hired MLS’ all-time winningest coach in Sigi Schmid and boosted the club’s scouting to include Schmid’s son, Kurt. Klein also granted the Schmids control over player personnel, effectively turning the father-son duo into general managers.
But Klein’s job of overseeing the entire business organization shouldn’t just be limited to the on-field product. During his tenure, he helped expand the Galaxy’s academy system, including recently launching a girls academy, and was instrumental in pushing the club into becoming the first MLS side to operate a club-owned USL franchise — Galaxy II.
He also was at the helm when StubHub Center was rented out to the National Football League’s L.A. Chargers, thus turning a “cathedral of soccer,” as Klein’s letter to fans read, into the NFL’s smallest stadium.