Don’t Fall Into the Maniac’s Trap

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Imagine that you’re a poker player playing a cash game at your local casino. You’ve been playing since the table first opened for the day and have built a very sizable chip stack.

In fact, you have been the biggest winner at the table thus far. You know and understand the other player’s games, tendencies and tells. Though you will inevitably lose some hands and big pots from time to time, you are very confident that you are one of the better players at the table and will surely walk away from the table with a big profit. Life is good. Suddenly, one of the players decides to leave the table and a new player sits down to join the game. They immediately make their presence known. They sport loud and flashy clothing, and jewelry is worn in what seems to be on every body part.  They buy in for more money than any other player at the table has in front of them (unnecessarily). They are loud and obnoxious, talking about how there’s a new player in town and that they will take everyone’s money. They see your chip stack and target you specifically.  They call you out and warn that all your money will soon be theirs because they’re coming for you above anyone else. You immediately despise this person. You decide at that moment that you will not lose to this player.  You study their gameplay, you learn their tells and be patient for the perfect moment to strike. Finally, a big pot builds and it’s heads up between you and this player.  In the end, you show the best hand and win the pot! A big smile appears on your face as you pull in your newly acquired chips. However, while you’re stroking your ego, you suddenly realize that your chip stack isn’t as big as it should be after winning such a big pot. Your look of pride and joy suddenly turn to confusion. How could this be? Well, while you were busy focusing on beating the new player, you forgot that there were 8 other players still at the table outplaying you because you were too busy trying to win an ego battle.

Alas, we have arrived at the point. For those who haven’t figured out the metaphor, the players at the poker table are the Galaxy and LAFC. The Galaxy would be wise not to have a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to what LAFC does. When Galaxy President Chris Klein says that he is not worried about what LAFC is doing and that he is only focused on the Galaxy, he is making the correct decision. Well, partially. Klein should not completely ignore LAFC for the mere fact that they are still competition, but to try to out duel a new and unproven team at the cost of losing to the real MLS Cup contenders would be foolish.  

LAFC is the new player at the table and they NEED to make their presence known. They need to show the league that they have money and are willing to spend, they need the flashy clothes.  They need to market their team to everyone to get all the focus on them. This is perfectly normal for an expansion team. But make no mistake, this is all a perfectly planned illusion. It is a psychological tactic. Just like the new poker player at the table, everything he does is for a reason. The flashy clothes, the big chip stack, the hard talk about how he’s going to take your money, it’s all meant to throw you off your game. It’s done to rattle your cage and to make your decisions based on emotion rather than reason. It is done so that you can make a mistake so that they can capitalize on it. When you’re an expansion team, this is all you have.  

After such a disappointing season in which they will most likely miss the playoffs for the first time in 9 years, the Galaxy should be focusing on themselves and not worry about anyone else. They need to go back to what made them so successful for so many years. They shouldn’t be worried about the marketing battle between LAFC because it is a battle they can’t win at the moment.  The Galaxy need to regroup and make smarter decisions if they are to be competitive next season. The ultimate marketing strategy is winning games, trophies and titles. The fans will come after that. LAFC will certainly talk a big game, but without backing it up, the fans will quickly turn on them for a winner.  

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Galaxy fans will surely have a hard time accepting that we shouldn’t be focused on LAFC and that is perfectly fine. After all, fandom is about ego and pride, nothing more. But where fans can be forgiven for putting ego and pride above reason, the front office can’t. They need to be more rational and focus on the bigger picture. They need to remember that the ultimate goal is to win an MLS Cup and not to defeat a single rival during a season. There may come a time when LAFC is the favorite to win a title, and when that time comes, that is when the Galaxy can focus on beating LAFC. Like a poker player, the front office needs to throw emotion and ego out the window when making decisions that will affect the club. Chris Klein has the right mentality, now he has to make the correct decisions.  

Galaxy Still Suffering from Disease

The LA Galaxy have fired head coach Curt Onalfo

and hired former Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid to take over the remainder of the season.  After posting a 6-10-4 record and sitting in 9th place in the Western Conference the move is deserved and long overdue.  Although this was a change that was sorely needed and very welcomed, it doesn’t cure the cancer that is currently infecting the Galaxy: the front office.  

Make no mistake, 9th place is not where anybody imagined the Galaxy would be after 20 games, including Galaxy President Chris Klein and General Manager Pete Vagenas.  However, it is no secret that most fans believe that it was them who put the Galaxy in that position to begin with and not necessarily Curt Onalfo.  Yes, Onalfo was underqualified for the position, and yes, his head coaching record was par at best, but that didn’t stop Klein or Vagenas from appointing him to the position.  As if hiring a subpar coach wasn’t enough, the front office failed to give Onalfo the tools he needed to have a chance at success. The front office failed to sign any sort of depth on the roster, instead deciding to rely on their youth program which was definitely not ready.  The front office will argue that a ridiculous amount of injuries was the reason for so many losses, which is partially true, but the plan was always to use the Galaxy 2 players when they were needed.  Well, they were certainly needed, and it proved that the backup plan was a horrible one.   Onalfo essentially was given a knife to bring to a gun fight.  Sure, a more skilled and talented person might be able to be successful with what was given to them, but it’s still not a good strategy to leave your soldier unarmed.  

The front office did make some signings during the offseason though.  They signed 3, actually.  Romain Alessandrini, Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro were all introduced before the season started.  It’s too bad only one has been great while the other had to wait until the 3rd signing inevitably went down with injury to be good.  It seemed like everybody knew that signing Jermaine Jones was a liability except the 2 people that mattered the most.  With only 3 signings added to an already young and thin roster before the season started, an injury to any one of these players would’ve put the Galaxy right back at square one.  And with Jones at a high risk for injury already, this plan was doomed from the beginning.  However, with only 3 signings and only 1 player used as a DP, the Galaxy still had room for one more game changing acquisition midseason should they need it.  The front office struck out on that front as well.  Failing to sign Dario Benedetto, Javier Hernandez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andre-Pierre Gignac, all of which play a position that the Galaxy desperately needed, they instead signed Jonathan dos Santos.  Though he is a very skilled and talented player, a midfielder was not what the Galaxy were looking for or needed and therefore the signing seemed to be more desperation and marketing rather than improving the team.  This again falls on the front office for their lack of vision and disastrous plan.

This plan, by the way, is still full speed ahead.  The philosophy of youth and cost cutting still remains, and the signing of a new coach does not change that.  In fact, hiring Sigi Schmid as head coach seems to fit the cost cutting narrative.  I agree that his pedigree, history and resume far exceeds that of Curt Onalfo’s but the fact of the matter is that there were better and “sexier” choices out there.  Bob Bradley was definitely available, as LAFC clearly demonstrated, but the cost would’ve been too much for the Galaxy.  A cost that they definitely could afford to be sure.  The same youthful players remain on the roster, so a coaching change won’t affect that, at least not until next season.  Sigi might do better with a knife than Onalfo did, but a new philosophy and front office might give him the guns he needs.

The bottom line is that even with a coaching change, the Galaxy are still plagued by the moves that are made from an incompetent front office.  Rather than to take responsibility, they remain stubborn and use excuses to explain their shortcomings.  A coaching change is a step in the right direction, and historically there is usually an uptick in performance, record and morale when a new coach takes charge.  But the fact is that the roster still lacks the players needed to be serious contenders for MLS Cup.  Cost cutting and smarter business can certainly be successful but you need the right personnel to pull it off.  Although, I admit, that only half a season is far too small of sample size, I can still say with enough confidence that Klein and Vagenas aren’t the right men for the job.  Changes at the top must be made if the Galaxy are to be the perennial power it once was and that fans have grown accustomed to.

Season Ticket Holder Rally

On what has become usual in the past months in Los Angeles The Galaxy's Season Ticket Member Rally took place in the rain on February 26, 2017.

LAiOH scoured the grounds and tried to cover as much as we could. Once the Rally was over and the meet and greet began we headed down the bleachers to speak to the players one on one. 

Enjoy our Photo Collection of the Event!


Keep the legends out of the rain and cold I say!

For full coverage of the STM Event listen in to our latest show Episode #059! We also cover in this episode Galaxy's Preseason loss to Portland & our 2017 MLS Season Predictions.