Sunday, September 14, 2008

Last in the league

That would be the Los Angeles Galaxy, folks. It's such a contrast to the league's first ten years. During the past three years, no original MLS team has turned over more players or coaches. Luis and I sometimes debate which trade or move hurt the team most, but that's like trying to assess each individual straw on a camel's back after it's broken. A lot of different things played a part.

That includes a league structure that basically punishes teams for having international players because it plays during international dates. Still, it's a reality each MLS team has known for a long time.

The problem with losing is that people want change to be the answer and solution, even if that's not actually going to make things better. It feels decisive, though. It's actually a lot easier than the patience required to trust for improvement.

For example, Sigi Schmid was given lots of time in Columbus after disappointing seasons because the organization simply believed in his ability and the system he was building. Frank Yallop was so weary of the pressure in LA that he took on an expansion-era San Jose team rather than wait for the axe in Los Angeles. Now both men are Coach of the Year candidates and ahead of LA in the standings.

I don't buy the "Best Coach in MLS" label that's been flung around for Bruce Arena. As one friend added, "Not in the current millennium".

On the other hand, if he gets switched out as well, I don't think that's going to necessarily improve the Galaxy.


Anonymous said...

i am so happy to see this, happy to see yallop doing so well with san jose this year... happy to see a marketing strategy (becks) fail so miserably on the field... yallop must feel vindicated.

Nathanhj said...

Since you are mentioning this can of worms, I think the whole thing goes back to two events. First, Doug Hamilton firing Sigi Schmidt while the Galaxy were in first place. Then Doug Hamilton dying a premature death on a flight back from a Galaxy friendly in Costa Rica.

Those two events unmoored Los Angeles from any kind of safety net of futbol sanity, allowing subsequent bad decisions to gather strength, while simultaneously providing nothing for good decisions to build upon.

Then, of course, you get the manchild Alexi Lalas on board and things just go haywire. Lalas made several bad decisions and a few good ones, but the unmooring I mention just made the bad ones many times worse. Of the bad ones, I think the one that caused the most unraveling was the trade of Kevin Hartman to KC and Gomez and Ihemelu to Colorado for Joe Cannon. It solved a problem that didn't exist and created weaknesses that game back to bite the team on the ass.

But I'm sure other people have other views on this, so I also agree that people can point to many straws having potentially been the back breaker.

One thing is for sure. In MLS you need patience and a plan to build that is followed doggedly. Success can be measured in incrimental achievements and improvement until, hopefully within 3 years, you end up with a winner. Columbus looks like that. NE and Houston are both examples of what happens when you do that and then stick with it for a number of years.

Los Angeles really doesn't look like that and made the Beckham acquisition at a time when the senior leadership of the front office was least equipped to deal with his impact on and off the field. I love that Becks is part of the Galaxy and I love what it has done for the league. I am sad, though, that he is having his impact on a team that is such a hot ghetto mess, though. Sometimes I wonder what the futbol would be like if he played for New England.

On the other hand, I can't really imagine him playing for any team other than the Galaxy in MLS.

Next year is critical for the league in terms of structure. It desperately needs to deal with the international calendar, now that a team can essentially field 8 international players in its starting 11. It desperately needs to deal with the salary cap and the roster size because of the increasing number of games that the top teams will be playing. It needs to deal with the fact that MLS is agreeing to play in all these non-league tournaments.

Some of those changes will make it easier for the Galaxy to make the kinds of smart changes they need to going into 2009. But that's up to the league first and the Galaxy brain trust second.

Anonymous said...

As a Galaxy fan that despises San Jose, I hope Yallop wins the cup this year, just to put an exclamation point on the Galaxy's stupidity.

FIRE Leiweke!

Anonymous said...

I think you're overanalyzing things Andrea. The problem is Tim Leiweke.

He fired Sigi.
He hired Sampson.
He hired Lalas.
He pissed off Ruud, and tried to solve all the team's problems by stomping his boots around the locker room.

Don't forget that the LA Kings are also one of the worst teams in their league. That's no coincidence.

When you go through so many players, coaches and even switch GMs a couple of times and the play doesn't improve, the problem is coming from higher up.

Fire Leiweke!

RHYbread said...

@anon Leiweke will never get fired because he's very good at what he does. He's the consummate businessman, just look at what AEG has done with Staples Center and HDC as development opportunities. He's just not good at applying that management experience to running the Kings and the Galaxy.

I wish he'd have a hands off policy with the Galaxy because the past few years have been pretty horrible, just too much change. Now with a guy like Arena who we all know doesn't take BS, Leiweke hopefully won't be sticking his nose where it doesn't belong, as much.

Now we just have to wait and see if Arena still has it as a coach (I don't think he does) and can make something out of the mess we're all stuck watching.

Anonymous said...

Galaxy fans are now blaming Leiweke? lol I guess after he's fired you'll start blaming uncle Phill.

Truth said...

@anonymous - you bet Tim Leiweke is to blame. Anyone with a brain knows it.

As for who blames Uncle Phil - that would be the San Jose Earthquakes fans.

Dan Haug said...

I don't know about the "best coach in the MLS", but I really feel that Arena is much better suited for LA than either Sampson or Gullit were.

I think it's sad that Yallop was dumped. I believe that if he had been given more freedom to operate we would have seen very different results this year. I'm hopeful that, given that freedom, and about a year, Arena can put the Gals back in the playoffs. However with the rumors of LD leaving, it will be interesting to see how all that plays out.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

It's not just a matter of Leiweke sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. It's a matter of Leiweke -- and, yes, ultimately, El Commandante (aka, Onkel Phil) -- creating an atmosphere of constant pressure and intimidation that prevents people from proposing creative solutions or making decisions with a calm perspective.

As far as Hamilton firing Schmid goes, I believe Hamilton was acting under orders from Leiweke, who is the type of man who would fire a successful coach because his team wasn't "entertaining enough."

What's happening to the Galaxy now, given the arrogance that incompetent mongoloids such as Leiweke and Lalas spewed on a regular basis, is nothing but karmic payback.

And payback is a female dog, right, Justin?