The LA Galaxy front office say that after a disappointing 2020 season, they are looking into every facet to see how they can improve for the future and ensure the four-year slump they’ve been on doesn’t become the norm.
As part of that, there is a larger examination of the culture the front office wants to establish moving forward.
Galaxy president Chris Klein and general manager Dennis te Kloese spoke to reporters in an end-of-season availability call on Wednesday, following the end of a season in which head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto was fired three games before the end of the campaign and the team failed to reach the playoffs, even with an expanded field this year.
While a chorus of fans want to see more changes, including at the front office level, Klein said he is evaluating everything, including his own role in a team that regressed in 2020.
“As we head into what is a crucial offseason, we’re spending quite a bit of time evaluating everything,” Klein told reporters. “And that starts with me, and certainly I hold my hand up and take responsibility not only for the results that are not up to our standard for this year, but for the last couple years. And we are spending a great deal of time, I am spending a great deal of time evaluating myself, evaluating our decisions. I know that the when we look at this, the responsibility does not fall on a coach. I’ve been with this club for 13 years, and I know what it stands for. And I have seen really great times here, and also challenging times and as we build into what is another offseason, we have to continue to progress the things that we view as very positive and have to get right, the ones that are not. We look at all of that, and we take it into account and then we plan for what is ahead.”
Based on Klein’s comments, explaining that Te Kloese is running the search to hire a new head coach, the Dutch GM looks set to continue beyond the two years he’s been here.
“I mean, look, I think Dennis has done a very good job laying the foundation for what we have,” he said. “Like I said in the beginning, though, we all have to take responsibility for what isn’t good enough and you’ve heard Dennis hold his hand up and say, he has responsibility. I certainly have responsibility too and so you know this is sports, and we’re all judged by the results that you see on the field and on the court and so I don’t know if safety is a word that any of us hold here but but we work every single day, and he worked extremely hard with his team, looking for a new coach and trying to keep the pieces of the roster that we have that we can build around and change the ones that he thinks that we need to improve upon.”
One interesting note both men mentioned was how MLS has changed the past few years, with the subtext that the Galaxy are increasingly falling behind the times.
“I’m looking at myself first and foremost, and how can I be better and how can we be better if you look at some of the the clubs and MLS is much different than it was five years ago and 10 years ago,” Klein said. “And you have to get the pieces right and have the right people working. There are some good things that we have, I mean Dennis has come in and laid a foundation that I believe that we can build upon.”
Te Kloese agreed and said that looking back at past LA glories is not the way forward for the club.
“I think we need to go even a little bit of a step back on even what Chris discussed with you guys just now on having a much more clear and better evaluated idea what is our identity and what is our protocols,” Te Kloese said. “I heard the question about the lack of culture which I think it’s a fair question that the League has changed dramatically obviously over the last, I would say five to 10 years. So to go to earlier stages of the Galaxy is something to be proud of. But it’s not something to rely upon on how to go forward and that is the path to go forward I think within a professional organization. The most successful organizations are very recognizable. And I think that is something in the last few years and I can speak for last year and this year obviously and, like I said, being held responsible for that.”
And so there’s a question of the Galaxy culture. With the club at a crossroads, Klein and Te Kloese seem to be grappling with how to re-establish a sustained culture that turns the Galaxy back into a perennial contender.
“In the end, you need something to fall back for on when when things go a little bit sour and I feel strongly that in the last two years that I’ve been part of this has been very difficult if things go a little bit sideways, which I think this year, on every single angle, you can put in arguments why things haven’t been good,” explained Te Kloese. “But you have to have things to fall back on. And I think that is something that we need to create and we need to be very very diligent about more than only saying now this is the coach and these are a couple of new players and we’ll just see where it ends up.”
Klein was asked about effectively getting out from under the shadow cast by Bruce Arena, who left after the 2016 season, and agreed making a coherent culture front and center again is a priority.
“[Arena] established that culture, and the culture of the LA Galaxy, even when I looked at it from the outside, was always something that that I look up to and having seen it firsthand on the inside I believe it’s something that needs to return to this club, and the identity of players that are currently playing for our team,” Klein explained.
“The identity of past players that have come through here and past coaches that have had success and we need to reestablish and get some of that back and so to answer your question, I think — and again, Dennis is going through this process now — it has to do with myself, it has to do with Dennis, it has to do with the coach that we hire. It has to do with the type of players that we bring in that can give our fans and give people like yourself the view from the outside that looks like an LA Galaxy team. And that is the objective and we spent a good deal of time speaking about that and and charting a course and in terms of how to retrieve that,” he added.
Klein reiterated his desire to take the Galaxy back to prominence, saying it’s something that is on his mind daily.
“I wake up every day trying to make our club better, and even moments that we’ve had success, I spend time thinking how can we improve and moments when we’re in the valley that doesn’t change. It doesn’t change how I work and how I think and how I approach the responsibility that I’ve been given at this club so yes it’s daily. And it’s not just because of where we are. It’s just how I am and I think the the effort and responsibility that is demanded of me so this club has given so much to the community of LA and in our supporters and they’ve given back. And so we have the responsibility now to put a team and a product on the field that represents that and so it is a daily process and something that we work very hard at,” he said.
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