I used to write about hitting the panic button. That time has long since passed. The LA Galaxy under Curt Onalfo are starting to look like the US National Team under Jurgen Klinsmann: clueless, aimless, and tactically inept with some crummy individual performances. It's resulted in a home record that should make the Galaxy front office worried, and a team that looks like all joy has been sucked from it's soul. The fact that Onalfo hasn't been sacked should also cause concern for Vagenas and Klein's oversight. How does the front office think LA's record is acceptable? Is mediocre the new standard for a club with such a proud dynasty in MLS?
It's one thing to convert to youth, but when said youth can't attack their way out of a paper bag, and when the veterans start looking to play hero ball (looking at you Jelle), the team has coaching problems.
So I'm going to say it: it's time for Curt Onalfo to be fired. The Galaxy need resuscitation to make their 2017 season sustainable, and waiting until the end of 2017 only ensures lost season ticket holders. There are benefits to firing him now, but first let's take a look at the evidence for his sacking:
- Goalkeeper Decisions: Onalfo's stubborn need to stick with Diop after Diop's costing the Galaxy points is a headscratcher. Clement Diop has been injured of late, leading to Brian Rowe back in goal, which might be a blessing in disguise. Rowe may have less spectacular saves than Diop, but he's more consistent. Whoscored.com pretty much sums it up below:
Rowe's Strengths (+)/Weaknesses (-): +Shot Stopping/+Saving Close Rangs Shots/-Long Passing
Diop's Strengths (+)/Weaknesses (-): +Long Passing/-Saving Close Range Shots/-Concentration/-Catching Crosses
To that comparison we say:
- Lack of tactical nous: The image above comes from the Sporting Kansas City loss. After that game Dave Romney had this to say: “We weren’t really clear on what to do on our right side, I guess. It was definitely a different gameplan than we usually would have. They play a different style.” This is eerily reminiscent of the comments leveled against Jurgen Klinsmann at his flighty best, with USMNT players unclear on goals, strategy and game plans. The good news is that apparently LA usually has game plans, but the bad news is that they don't appear to be adjusted.
- Historical lows: In 2017, the Galaxy have their worst home loss record, worst home scoring record, and their worst loss in history (to the worst team in MLS). And somehow Curt is still employed.
- Losing Streak: Currently at 5.
- Jermaine Jones: Though LA has needed midfield reinforcements, they've needed more help on defense. Jermaine hasn't helped, and his positional discipline (and discipline period) is a problem. He's a front office and Curt hire, and it hasn't been a good one thus far.
- Trading AJ DeLaGarza: Let's all remember that game where Rafael Garcia played RB. Let's all remember any game where Nathan Smith played RB. Trading away a fan favorite that was solid but steady in defense is a head scratcher when the D has looked like a clown car this season.
- Ema Boateng, first sub: Here's a thought! Let's sub off one of our most creative players when we still need a goal! Oh, and he'll be the first one off most of the time, too. I still don't get it. He doesn't look gassed out there most of the time, so....?
- Players out of position: Ashley Cole at DM has been a nice surprise. But when players are being shuttled around to fullback to end games, and you're rolling the dice on a 36 year old DM that's never played there? It's bad.
- Too much reliance on Los Dos: Look, we all want youth to pan out. But you want to slowly integrate them instead of shoving a good chunk of them into the starting XI or giving them major minutes. Jaime Villarreal has not looked good. Bradford Jamieson IV looks like an aimless chicken. Jack McBean has been ineffectual. Onalfo seems to come from the Bruce Arena school of "Jose Villarreal must never be seen again." Ariel Lassister is inconsistent. Overall, they just don't look ready for primetime.
- Locker room discontent: Jelle Van Damme has had some choice words this year about the losses. And this past week Giovani Dos Santos had some interesting words to say as well about whether other clubs would let the bad play continue (his verdict: no).
- Lack of discipline: Not only do the tactics appear to be missing, but as the games roll on and the Galaxy are on the losing end, players have a tendency to start playing hero ball rather than sticking together. Dos Santos starts trying to dribble through four defenders, Jelle Van Damme leaves CB to become another striker, Alessandrini doesn't help out on defense, tracking back erodes, the Galaxy play a dangerous high line.... all of this is on the coach.
It's not all bad. Onalfo's regime also brought on Alessandrini who has lived up to his DP moniker, Dos Santos did have flashes of brilliance in a role that let him create in the middle, we should be playing the kids, and Onalfo made an attempt to get Jelle to stop drifting forward. It just hasn't stuck and it's turned into a 5 game losing streak.
Why is it a good time right now? The schedule is getting increasingly difficult (it was forgiving to start the season) and the playoffs are slipping through the Galaxy's fingers. The July transfer window and MLS midseason is a good time to make a change if the Galaxy have a prayer in 2017. The front office is going to want to prevent further brand erosion, lost ticket sales, and player mutiny, plus they don't want to be losers heading into the introduction of LAFC.
The question isn't whether he should be fired - that answer is a resounding yes - it's who should replace him?
Share your thoughts in the comments. Should he be fired? And if so, who do you want as head coach?