Steve Carrillo

Behind Closed Doors, All is Not Normal for the LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy locker room’s heavy gray doors featuring a club logo fashioned as handles stood guard over a closed-door meeting between Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid and his beleaguered team Saturday night at StubHub Center.

Only minutes earlier he held a post-game press conference that was anything but routine. The normally talkative Schmid appeared worn out and frustrated after a 4-0 drubbing by Toronto FC. His hand was pressed against his face as he struggled to find the right words to express his anger at the events without yelling at reporters.

The Galaxy did not register a single shot on goal in the match. In fact, they managed just three shots total with only one, a looping, 30-yard attempt by Jonathan dos Santos, making Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono nervous.

Schmid was pointed and brief when asked to describe his team’s offensive struggles.

“We weren’t good enough,” he said.

He had a similar response when asked about what he’s learned about the team and roster since taking over for the fired Curt Onalfo in late July.

“I’ve learned a lot of things. They’re for me,” he grumbled without elaborating.

He departed the press conference with Galaxy Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Digital Brendan Hannan and they took a detour from the normal route of cutting through training rooms. Schmid and Hannan instead walked in front of reporters as everyone headed toward the Galaxy locker room.

Out of the press briefing, it’s a right turn toward one of the main hallways. Then it’s a left turn until you walk by two or three security guards, past the Galaxy equipment room and the referee locker rooms — always guarded by two security guards – and, finally, another left turn to the Galaxy locker room that sits on the left side of the hallway.

Not even L.A. County Sheriffs, a K-9 unit and several officers in bulletproof vests could persuade them to leave.

Spectrum SportsNet was set up with its cameras in the hall and Joe Tutino waited for players to be ushered into place for post-game interviews. Schmid and Hannan broke from the group just before the final left-hand turn and entered the coaches office. The rest of the reporters continued on.

There’s a sign listing media rules and regulations that hangs next to the Galaxy locker room. Its purpose is to tell the media when the room is “open” for them to enter. Saturday, as is often the case, the room was “closed.”

That sign normally is switched upon the media’s arrival, but this time it remained closed.

After about a five-minute wait, a long time by normal standards, Hannan made the unusual request for the press to move down the hall and away from the locker room. Such a request had not been made since CoG has been covering the team.

Hannan told reporters the team was going to hold a closed-door meeting and club officials did not want the press to overhear what was said.

Just after the meeting started, Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski exited from the players’ lounge with what appeared to be a pizza box. He moved quickly toward the coaches office but then gave a quick glance back to the assembled reporters. He poked his head out of the office two more times but made no attempt to update the group on what was happening.


Meanwhile, back at field level, Galaxy supporters group Angel City Brigade still was singing nearly 45 minutes after the final whistle. Those fans were determined to stay in section 121 at the north side of the stadium until either a player or Galaxy President Chris Klein talked to them. They wanted answers for a disappointing season and were adamant in not leaving without them.

Not even L.A. County Sheriffs, a K-9 unit and several officers in bulletproof vests could persuade them to leave.


Down in the tunnels, Galaxy legend Cobi Jones made his way toward reporters. Pleasantries were exchanged, but no one knew what was going on. Jones smiled and told one member of the media, “I’ve been there before.”

Such a closed-door meeting, which often signifies a team in crisis, was not new to him, he intimated.

It was another 15 minutes before Galaxy Communications Manager Chris Glidden waved the press toward a just-opened locker room that was quiet and had no music playing. There were no loud conversations and players either were headed to the showers or already in them.

It was another 10 minutes before the first interview offered the media its first taste of what happened during the previous 25 minutes.


Angel City Brigade finally got someone to come out. Romain Alessandrini, who did not play Saturday, made his way toward the group and, according to one fan, “Romain just apologized for the situation and said, ‘We need you guys.’

“He assured us that next year will be very different. Considering Sigi is getting ready to chop heads and players’ jobs are on the line, we feel a lot will change next year. But this year is lost.”

In response to the fans’ refusal to leave StubHub Center, the Galaxy issued a statement that read, “We brought a player out to address our performance and to thank them for their unwavering support of our club.”

Fans soon filed out orderly and pledged their continued support.


Goalkeeper Jon Kempin was the first player to meet the media and immediately was asked about the just-concluded, closed-door meeting.

“The main message was that guys are playing for their jobs,” Kempin explained. “Play for some pride. That’s the main message. You’ve got to go to practice now and work hard and play hard. Have some pride.

“It wasn’t loud, but he (Schmid) was frustrated. Anytime you lose 4-0, especially after we were starting to build after a 3-0 win and tie against Seattle. We were kind of on the right track and this is a little step backward.

“So the main thing he said was is this going to be a road bump or are we going to go off the path.”

An unidentified player told CoG the same thing, that Schmid was more frustrated than angry.

“He was just more disappointed because he thought the last couple games we were taking steps forward and felt like we took a big step back after that game,” the player said.

Schmid, the player went on, apparently made his points quickly but continued on for quite some time without the same effect.

“It was pretty frank,” Galaxy defender Dave Romney told reporters. “Guys are playing for their jobs, he’s said it before. Couldn’t be any truer than that. If that doesn’t motivate you I don’t know what else will.”

Romney then was asked if some players need that reminder.

“I don’t know,” he responded. “But when I hear that, I think I need to play better and I need to be the best version of myself because I want to stay here. So it works for me.

“I don’t know how other people take it. I can’t speak for anyone else but that definitely motivates me.”

It appeared only younger players hung around long enough for the press to ask them questions. Veterans and leaders such as Ashley Cole, Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos were nowhere to be found and, to be fair, reporters did not request any of them after the game.

But Jermaine Jones, another absentee in Saturday’s loss, remained in the post-game locker room. So did Alessandrini who, like Jones, did not play because of yellow-card accumulation.

Reporters finished with their questions and headed toward the press box with the distinct realization that what just happened some 20 feet underground was anything but normal. Something appeared to have changed and the Galaxy were a different team, entity, and organization.

But that wasn’t necessarily a change for the better.