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.