CARSON, Calif. – Los Angeles Galaxy captain Ashley Cole has been a member of the club since January 2016 and already has seen the departure of three head coaches: Bruce Arena, Curt Onalfo and Sigi Schmid.
“It’s getting like Europe now,” the English international and 37-year-old defender said with a laugh.
The latest change he witnessed occurred Monday morning when he arrived at StubHub Center to prepare for training. But he sensed something was different when he was informed of a team meeting.
And when club president Chris Klein walked into the locker room to address the squad the rest, as they say, is history.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Cole said after receiving the news that Schmid had resigned and top assistant Dominic Kinnear was named interim coach. “But like I’ve said so many times, you have to kick on and prepare for a big game on Saturday.”
The Galaxy do, indeed, have an important game in Toronto (Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Spectrum SN, Spectrum Deportes) with MLS Cup playoff implications on the line – the Galaxy are three points out of a postseason berth with only six games remaining in the regular season – but players couldn’t avoid talking about the ramifications of the sudden coaching change despite knowing the importance of this weekend’s match.
“It’s part of the business that’s never pretty,” goalkeeper David Bingham said. “We’re all professionals. I think we only have one rookie on the team, so we’ve all been through it before. But at the end of the day when someone loses his job, you feel personally responsible.
“It sucks. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it personally. But we have to let that go because we’re fighting for our lives right now. We have to put that behind us and get a result this weekend.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the team’s leading scorer with 16 goals and eight assists, said the change in hierarchy simply was an unfortunate part of the business.
“This is football,” he said. “I’ve been through it before and it will happen again. That’s the way it is. When things don’t go well and the results are not there, it’s always the coach that takes that responsibility. This time it was Sigi.
“We are professionals, we are football players. Same thing in our case, but we don’t get fired. We end up on the bench or in the stands. So when you play at the highest level that’s the way it is.
“That’s why we train hard every day and we have to perform every day, to show we are in the picture.”
Cole said the coaching change might even give the team a boost as it goes down to the proverbial wire in its pursuit of a playoff spot, but he also said Schmid isn’t the only one who should be held accountable for what has happened this season.
“As players when the manager gets sacked, you have to look in the mirror and say it’s not always the manager,” he said. “It’s down to the players. He picks the team and puts out the team he thinks can win games and we weren’t winning games.
“There is a new lease on life because there’s a new manager and maybe players think they have an opportunity to get back into the team. Dom is a great guy, now it’s his time to shine.
“The lads have to get behind him and give everything now because it’s too critical now,” he went on. “We have to start winning.”