In a year when not much was going right for anyone, even silver linings were hard to find for them LA Galaxy in 2020.
After playing a prominent role in Major League Soccer – and a model for cultural relevance and success on the field – the Galaxy missed the playoffs for the third time in four years. striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, which was acquired in a $ 9.4 million transfer after last off season Zlatan Ibrahimovic ended his two-season season in Southern California, scoring just two goals in 12 games. Since the club felt additional competition from LAFC The public brand became stale in the market, and when head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto was sacked with three games remaining in the 2020 season, it was clear a reset was needed.
There was no rush to find a replacement for General Manager Dennis te Kloese. After deeply missing Schelotto, a successful coach in Argentina, a patient approach made sense. Game style, methodology, ideology, background: everything was up for discussion when a shortlist of candidates was developed. For all the care that has gone into the process, there is no substitute for good timing.
“There are times in life when the right moment is the right time for everything,” said te Kloese. “Something is coming your way.”
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And for the galaxy, that was someone: Greg Vanney. During seven years as head coach of Toronto FCThe longtime defender of Galaxy transformed the club from an afterthought into a multi-year MLS Cup contender. When the Galaxy started looking for a new coach, it was said in the league that Vanney could be available soon.
“At some point we saw Greg considering another opportunity and either stepping down or not renewing his contract in Toronto,” said te Kloese. “He played here. He has dealings with a lot of people here. He has to do with our fan base. He was successful in Toronto and he understands the league … He was the perfect candidate.”
In his December farewell news conference from Toronto, Vanney outlined a future scenario that ended just before the galaxy’s name review.
“I’m a builder,” said Vanney. “I like building things and I like projects and I like big things.”
About a month later, he was introduced as the galaxy’s 10th permanent head coach.
Despite a reality check in Seattle, Chicharito and the LA Galaxy have got off to a promising start. Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
After three games in Vanney’s tenure, the Galaxy couldn’t hope for much. Chicharito broke out in wins against for five combined goals Inter Miami CF. and the New York Red Bulls to start the season and despite a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders FC On Sunday there is justified optimism about the club going into the El Trafico rivalry game at home against LAFC on Saturday.
• • Salt Lake v San Jose (9:30 PM ET)
8TH OF MAY
• • Chicago v Philadelphia (1pm ET)
• • Red Bulls versus Toronto (1pm ET)
• • Columbus vs. DC (1:30 p.m. ET)
• • Vancouver vs. Montreal (3 p.m. ET)
• • Orlando v NYCFC (6pm ET)
• • Colorado v. Minnesota (10 p.m. ET)
• • Miami v Atlanta (1pm ET)
• • Portland v Seattle (3 p.m. ET)
In 10 matches with LAFC, the Galaxy has won four times – including twice last season – while LAFC has won three times with three draws. It has quickly become one of the best rivalries in the league, entering a new era with the arrival of Vanney, who deviates from coaching Michael Bradley in Toronto for coaching against his father, LAFC manager Bob Bradley.
It’s too early to make worthwhile decisions about what to expect for the rest of the season, but it’s evident that Vanney’s arrival had a calming effect on the team.
“He brought a lot of clarity and organization,” said the defender Daniel Steres said ESPN. “He knows exactly how he wants to play. He knows the pieces we have here and how they all go with it and how you can adapt to do it better. It was really clear.
“We’re starting to develop a real identity for how we want to play, no matter who we play against.”
No one on the team has benefited more from Vanney’s arrival than Chicharito. Mexico‘s all-time all-time goalscorer for greats like Manchester United, real Madrid and last Sevilla FC, arrived at MLS with great fanfare, but amid the coronavirus pandemic, adjusting was mentally stressful. After the Miami game, Chicharito revealed the fighting he’s had since arriving in LA
Herculez Gomez says Javier Hernandez’s move sets him apart from other strikers.
“I hold my tears,” Hernandez told ABC after scoring two goals in Miami. “I suffered the loss of my grandfather, I would love if he kept watching [me] Score goals. I am very touched because, as I told you, last season was very difficult. I miss him so much and these goals are for him, my children, all my family, my friends, everyone. I have patience, I keep dragging and luckily things are coming and hopefully I want to be part of an amazing season. “
Chicharito has spoken extensively about this since the season opener the importance of mental healthand seems to have settled in a place where he is comfortable.
“For me, what I’m looking for is joy because I enjoy growing and I can’t grow unless I challenge myself,” Hernandez said recently MLSsoccer.com.
“He’s an example of the difference between last year and this year,” said midfielder Sacha Kljestan said. “Other people can also feel it – the atmosphere in the team. The atmosphere in the team is so much better at the moment than last year, so much different than last year. Everyone is excited, everyone felt good. We are I feel like a real family that comes to work every day to improve and to get better as an individual and as a team. “
With Chicharito’s hot start – his five goals in three weeks leading the league up – expectations are rising about not only how far he can take the galaxy, but a possible reintegration into the Mexican national team ahead of a busy international calendar this year. His last international appearance was on September 9, 2019, when he scored a 3-0 win in a friendly against the USA United Statesand has claimed that he is interested in playing for El Tri. With Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez is still recovering from a frightening head injury in the field in NovemberAn established striker like Hernandez may be needed in Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s Mexican squad this summer.
“There are some players who I think make sense for a national team when they are in good shape and Javier is certainly one of them,” said te Kloese, who previously served as national team director for Mexico Football Association acted named in the Galaxy Front Office. “He’s and still is Mexico’s historic goalscorer [at 32 years old] where it can be pretty good for a few more years.
“There are good attacking players for Mexico and he’s always one of those players I think gets mentioned in the Federation offices. I can’t see why not.”
Efrain Alvarez remains a top young talent to take care of the galaxy. Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
As the galaxy prepared for a summer in which they could do without multiple players due to international engagement, te Kloese said the club is actively looking for new players, but also pointed to the club’s increased emphasis on playing academy products and players got through LA Galaxy II in USL to be confident they can weather potential absences.
“I have to praise some of our young children and the work that has gone into the academy and second team with people like for the past two and a half years Efrain alvarez placeholder image, Julian Araujo, Cameron Dunbar, Ethan Zubak, Adam Saldana, Carlos Harvey – The scouting that brought these people here and is now really able to step on the field in an MLS game, “he said.” I don’t think a club like Galaxy should only focus on young players, but it is a luxury to have these young players who can shape the game. These players will represent value in the future, and they represent value on the field of play right now. “
In the past, the Academy of the Galaxy has gained a reputation for developing top talent – at least when compared to their MLS counterparts – but the path for these players to gain significant first-team opportunities has not always been there. As MLS becomes more of a player in the world market, the path between the academy and the galaxy’s first team becomes more important, and one of the players most likely to feed this into a European transfer is Alvarez.
The 18-year-old attacking midfielder was the youngest addition in USL history when he moved to LA Galaxy II in 2017 at the age of 15 and made his debut in a friendly against the Mexican national team Costa Rica March. Alvarez, originally from East Los Angeles, was called up to join Gregg Berhalter’s US national team in December. However, all signs suggest that his long-term international future will lie in Mexico.
“I have to give him a lot of credit for how hard he worked in the off-season, how fit he is,” said te Kloese. “He’s 18 years old, so sometimes his decisions need a little guidance, need support, need people around him who can help him in the right way. But in the field, even as an 18-year-old – his vision, to be Talent and everything – he looks like an older player and I think he has a bright future if he wants it. “