CARSON, Calif. – It was with mixed emotions that LA Galaxy President Chis Klein began Thursday’s press conference that officially announced the hiring of Guillermo Barros Schelotto as head coach.
Klein paid tribute to former Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid, who passed away just a week ago when he said, “We’re doing this because of him.”
“We’re going to miss him dearly,” Klein continued, “the sport of soccer is going to miss him and the people that knew him well certainly miss him greatly.”
But Klein wasn’t entirely remorseful Thursday. He understandably was upbeat not only with the recent hiring of Dennis te Kloese as general manager but also with the addition of the 45-year-old Schelotto, who is coming to the Galaxy after three seasons with Argentine power Boca Juniors, which he led to two Primera Division championships.
“The impressive thing to me … certainly his experience in MLS is a big difference,” Klein said of Schelotto, the 2008 MLS MVP and MLS Cup MVP with the champion Columbus Crew. “Certainly coming to a club like ours, a similar-profile club in our country, it just seemed to fit perfectly.
“Add to that his desire to come here, his desire to be in MLS and specifically with the Galaxy just made it a perfect fit.”
The 45-year-old Schelotto said the decision to come back to the states was a no-brainer.
“I know about MLS,” he said. “I played there. I know what I’m talking about when we’re talking about soccer in the United States. The league is growing, the players are getting better and better.
“I like the country, I like the league. For me it was very easy when I got the opportunity to come here.”
Te Kloese said Schelotto’s hiring made sense for a number of reasons.
“I think Guillermo, first of all as a player, he’s proven to be able to win,” he said. “He had a very, very accomplished career. As a coach, both at (Argentina’s Club Atletico) Lanus and Boca, he came to both teams in situations where there was a need for a lot of organization, structure and quality decisions. I think in the position we’re at, we can take great advantage of his knowledge and ability to get teams and clubs organized in a way that his style of playing, his way of thinking about soccer fits us.
“If you go beyond that, he’s also proven he’s not afraid to put young players on the field. I think he comes from a culture similar to what I come from where you play when you’re good enough and not based on age or anything else. I think with the knowledge of MLS and being a very high-profile player for several years I think that gives us something extra.”
The Galaxy’s new soccer staff certainly will be hard-pressed for time. The MLS player combine kicked off Thursday in Orlando, Fla., and the MLS Superdraft is set to begin at 10 a.m. on Jan. 11 in Chicago. Training camp is expected to begin later this month, followed by the preseason opener against Toronto FC on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Dignity Health Sports Park. The preseason finale is against Colorado at home on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m., and the MLS regular season will begin on Saturday, March 2 against the Chicago Fire at 5 p.m. Dignity Health Sports Park.
Schelotto and te Kloese appeared undaunted by the challenges that lay ahead of them in their bid to resuscitate a once-proud franchise that has missed the playoffs the last two seasons and went through three head coaches in 2018.
“I am very happy and excited about the future,” Schelotto said. “I am very happy to start the training and prepare the team.”Added te Kloese, “I’m very, very excited. I’ve always followed MLS with great interest. We’re very proud and excited to work together and support Guillermo on this new adventure.”