Greg Vanney has big plans for the LA Galaxy, and he is ready to get to work.
The new head coach spoke to the media for the first time in his new role on Wednesday, moving back to the Galaxy, where he began and ended his pro career as a player, before a successful five-plus year stint as Toronto FC head coach.
Vanney said he was “super excited” by the challenge in LA, and while he’s still working on assembling his coaching staff and getting his feet under the proverbial desk, he’s ready to make a difference and bring the Galaxy back to prominence.
One of the interesting components of Vanney’s press conference was in talking about what he likes about the current squad and what he would like to upgrade. Vanney attempted to thread the needle by emphasizing his belief he can get more out of the current players before mentioning a few key areas to target in shoring up a roster for 2021.
“There’s a lot of pieces to like,” Vanney said of the current roster. “I think one thing that’s important and again, it’s my responsibility, is to get the most out of the players that we have here. And to get those guys on the right page with the rest of us, with our style of play and build off of those guys. We have great pieces here with Javier [Hernandez], and Jonathan [dos Santos] and multiple guys whose names I can list off right now. So there’s a lot of building blocks that are in place, but at the same time we’ve got to get complimentary pieces for them.”
General manager Dennis te Kloese told reporters that the club was still in discussions with Boca Juniors to bring back Cristian Pavón, although he said the club would keep their options open in that pursuit. Vanney pretty clearly endorsed bringing back the team’s best player in 2020.
“Obviously Cristian is one of those players we would love to get back, he brings a lot to this team so that’s one piece,” Vanney said. “We want to continue to build in terms of our relationships on the attacking side, looking [for] another right winger, for example, something else to add to our midfield.”
Vanney, himself a former defender, specifically highlighted the Galaxy defense and the overall defensive approach as an area that needs to be improved, both tactically and with personnel.
“One of the most important things for me is that we build more stability in the defending half of the field and on the defending side. That means from front to back, we defend better as a team, which is how we can work in the training field and how we’re going to work as a group, but also continuing to improve in terms of getting the most out of the guys we have but maybe adding another piece or two to the defensive side that can help us, goalkeeper position, to help us to be more solid on the defensive side,” he explained. “There’s nothing more challenging than being a great attacking team and then conceding a lot of goals so it’s making sure that we have balance. We have to have the foundation on the defensive side to support what we want to do on the attacking side, so there’s pieces all around that we’re looking at and trying to pull together.”
Apart from transfers out and trades, there’s not a ton of flexibility in the roster to add pieces, although the departures of Joe Corona and Rolf Feltscher do present roster slots and cap space to work with. Vanney really hammered home that he thinks he can get more out of the group than his predecessor did.
“But again, the first and most important thing is that we got we have guys on our roster who I think have more to give to us than maybe they’ve been able to give in the short term. We need to bring that out of them as well and I look forward to just getting to know those guys and getting to work with them and understanding what motivates them and bringing our system and style that I think that they’ll appreciate and enjoy and really get get excited about,” he said.
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