CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy have landed Argentine Guillermo Barros Schelotto as their next head coach according to a report.
The deal, originally reported by the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter, will see the 45-year-old MLS Most Valuable Player take over for interim head coach Dominic Kinnear and end a span of more than 100 days without a permanent coach since former head coach Sigi Schmid was fired in early September.
Kinnear, according to Baxter, could end up as Schelotto’s assistant and would be a wise move since Schelotto and new Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese haven’t been involved in the day-to-day running of a team in the league in quite some time.
Schelotto joins the Galaxy after managing just two teams in Argentina — Club Atletico Lanus and world powerhouse Boca Juniors. Schelotto made more 300 appearances for Boca Juniors from 1997-2007 as a player before joining MLS side Columbus Crew in 2007.
With Columbus, Schelotto was named MLS MVP, won MLS Cup in 2008 and was named that cup’s MVP after the Crew beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in the final at Home Depot Center in Carson.
He also became the Crew’s first designated player for then-Crew coach Schmid and was a fan favorite and team leader. He retired after the 2011 season with Gimnasia La Plata and went on to coach with Lanus in 2012.
Schelotto went 62-23-31 with Boca Juniors in 2016-2018, but the Argentine side recently lost to fierce rival River Plate 5-3 on aggregate in the Copa Libertadores final in Madrid, Spain. Under Schelotto, however, they were back-to-back Argentinian titles in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
For the Galaxy, the last few weeks have been a roller coaster. The team finalized lengthy negotiations with te Kloese to become general manager and then talked to former Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. Porter reportedly lured the Galaxy into a bidding war with Columbus, which eventually gave Porter more years than the Galaxy were willing to offer. The Galaxy then went back to square one and appeared to have quickly zeroed in on Schelotto after starting the initial conversation in early fall.
The bottom line is the Galaxy, having missed the playoffs in consecutive years, largely are locked in to many of their player contracts. Schelotto will enter with a roster that is mostly set for the 2019 season and also will be in charge of arguably the largest personality in the game — Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Schelotto has never managed in the United States, and outside of te Kloese’s four fairly successful years in charge at Chivas USA he’s been away from the MLS game for nearly 10 years. Factor in the league’s rule changes and roster restrictions during that time and Schelotto and te Kloese will be expected to learn the league quickly.
Their biggest task could be opening a designated player spot to enable Ibrahimovic to claim his new league-record salary, reportedly $7.5 million, for 2019. That means either Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos or Romain Alessandrini will need to be traded or transferred or have their contracts modified or bought out.
A formal announcement of Schelotto’s hiring by the club is expected later this week.