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LA Galaxy GM: Schelotto didn’t build on gains of 2019

Dennis Te Kloese explains decision to fire head coach.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy-Javier Chicharito Hernandez Press Conference Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

So what did in Guillermo Barros Schelotto as LA Galaxy manager?

It’s obvious in many respects — the team wasn’t winning enough games, ultimately.

The debate will rage on of whether Schelotto’s presence until Thursday was the main thing holding the Galaxy back from success, but club general manager Dennis te Kloese shed some light on the process and why they decided to fire Schelotto with three games left in the season.

Above all, Te Kloese was most open in admitting the team did not build upon their 2019 season as expected, with the Galaxy almost certainly set to miss out on the playoffs this year, even with an expanded field.

“In a project that started two years ago with Guillermo with a lot of things that can be seen as positives last year, we haven’t been able to capitalize this year with the goals being set out in the beginning of the year,” Te Kloese told reporters during a press conference following the news of Schelotto’s firing Thursday. “We ended up at a point that this is obviously a very sad day. It doesn’t take away responsibility from everybody, nor my responsibility.”

The GM went into more detail after being asked why they made the move right now.

“I think first of all it is very challenging to find the right moment, and out of respect and circumstances and everything that we’re going through our intent was to support and to surround Guillermo with the best possible tools for him to perform,” Te Kloese said. “And I must say that how we ended up this year after our first year ending up in the playoffs, winning our game in the playoffs. Obviously with a great interest in individual performance of certain players and one of them, obviously, Zlatan, the idea and the goals of the organization and of the club were to capitalize on that this year with younger players that had a little bit more experience with more players, according to the likes and the style of Guillermo.”

It sounded as though the alarm bells began to ring as soon as the second game of the season, when the Galaxy lost a disappointing season home opener to the Vancouver Whitecaps, with the coronavirus pandemic coming literally days later possibly buying more time for Schelotto.

“And as you’ve seen and we’ve started off the beginning of the year very rough in Houston, with a difficult game but still we get a result. Then it was a disappointing game at home and then like everybody knows and there’s no way even being close to an excuse, the pandemic hit. And then we’ve been up and down as a roller coaster,” Te Kloese explained.

It became apparent during Schelotto’s run that he didn’t have the tools to keep up tactically in MLS, a remarkable statement considering MLS was once a monotonous league in terms of tactics, especially when he was in his pomp playing for the Columbus Crew.

Te Kloese was asked whether the Galaxy overall have adequately kept pace with the rest of the league.

“I think the league in the last few years — and you see it in a lot of teams — has evolved enormously,” he said, having previously served as GM of Chivas USA. “The competitiveness and the players that come in, the preparation of young players and the investment that most of the teams have done in in young players and youth academies in the last years. You see little by little that it’s paying off and it makes it a high competitive league with more and more teams with obviously players that that show themselves in a positive way and I need to be respectful and obviously be responsible and correct in my comments that in our way we haven’t performed up to standing.”

Dominic Kinnear, one of the most successful coaches in MLS history, steps back into the interim head coach role for the Galaxy, after occupying it in 2018 before Schelotto’s appointment. Te Kloese was unwilling to say if Kinnear would be considered as the permanent head coach at this stage.

“In case of Dominic, I think we’ll take it step by step, which I think in this year is the most sensitive thing we can do, and what we’ve learned, and let’s work as an organization, as a group, we’ll work together to Sunday’s game and we’ll take it step by step before drawing any conclusions on candidacy or how we go forward,” Te Kloese said.

“We’d like to focus on the upcoming games to support Dom, and everybody around the team, the players as much as possible to make it three highly positive games and something that our fan base and everybody within the organization can be proud of. And then we’ll assess and evaluate any steps forward and like you said there is no secret that defensively we haven’t been able to perform. But sometimes it’s not only on defenders, it depends also on other things and goes into a way of how you style up your team also and prepare tactically,” he added.

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