2018 Season: Zlatan Ibrahimović's introductory press conference at StubHub Center on March 30, 2018. Photo by Robert Mora/LA Galaxy. --- www.LAGalaxy.com --- @LAGALAXY

CHEATERS: $2 Million in Fines and Klein Suspended in LA Galaxy Scandal

CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy were fined and sanctioned by Major League Soccer on Friday afternoon for the misclassification of midfielder Cristian Pavon during the 2019 season.

Pavon was acquired on loan in August of 2019 by using Targeted Allocation Money from Argentine giants Boca Juniors. The then 23-year-old was added to the roster as a TAM player, per the team press release.

According to MLS, that was a misclassification of his status. And Pavon should have been listed as a Designated Player because “the LA Galaxy entered into agreements that were not disclosed that included payments that were not accounted for in the calculation of Cristian Pavon’s salary budget and roster category.

“The undisclosed agreements and payments resulted in the improper classification of Pavon as a Target Allocation Money player in 2019, who should have occupied a Designated Player slot,” the league concluded.

At the time, the Galaxy had all three designated player spots filled, and they publicly listed the loan fee from Boca as “Free.”

For their role in cheating, LA Galaxy President Chris Klein was suspended from any “sporting-related responsibilities through the conclusion of the Primary Transfer Window.” The 2022 Primary transfer window extended from February 10 to May 4. A similar window can be expected this year, although it hasn’t been announced by the league yet.

During Klein’s absence, LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney will be promoted to LA Galaxy Sporting Director and will report directly to AEG President Dan Beckerman.

Former LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese, who was pivotal in acquiring Pavon on loan, has also been sanctioned. He will be required to submit an application with the Office of the Commissioner should he wish to secure employment with any MLS Club in the future.

Additionally, the Galaxy will be prohibited from registering a player who requires the receipt of an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from outside of the United States and Canada during the Secondary Transfer Window (summer) in 2023. The Galaxy have also been fined $1 million and will be penalized $1 million in future General Allocation Money.

The Galaxy made the playoffs in 2019 under head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. And after advancing through the first round saw their season halted by rivals LAFC. In 2020, Pavon would be classified as a Designated Player.

“From the outset, the LA Galaxy and AEG have fully cooperated with MLS to ensure a thorough and transparent process, and we accept the outcome and sanctions set forth in this ruling,” the team said in a statement.

With lackluster results since 2017, the Galaxy have been far from competitive for most of the years under Klein’s and Beckerman’s leadership. The two highlights were 2019 and 2022. But with 2019 tarnished and trust once again breached between the team and their fans, it’s hard not to lay blame at the feet of management. For both Klein and te Kloese, this only makes things look worse.

Whether or not Klein makes it back from his suspension is another question that can only be answered in the coming days, weeks, and months and will need to be carefully considered by Beckerman on behalf of AEG. And how much did Beckerman know about this? If the Galaxy chose to keep him in the dark, certainly, that would be a breach of trust. And if he knew, he’d be complicit.

Perhaps it was te Kloese, who is currently outside of the reach of the league, who kept it secret from everyone. Or maybe we saw the Galaxy’s answer about him when his contract option was picked up, only to see te Kloese opting to leave instead amid what was perceived as “bad blood.” Most of this could and probably should fall on his shoulders.

But to grab a phrase from the NCAA, the Galaxy certainly seemed to lack institutional control. And Beckerman, Klein, te Kloese and the entire LA Galaxy organization now own the blame and the disgrace that comes from being rightfully named as cheaters.