Editorial (December 12, 2018) – Yesterday the LA Galaxy finally announced that Dennis te Kloese will be their new General Manager. The long time Mexican Football Federation (FMF) employee has worked in soccer throughout Mexico at the international and club level. Chris Klein has his man and his man has to get to work.
Six questions for te Klose as General Manager of the LA Galaxy
The LA Galaxy off-season has been swirling with questions and uncertainty, especially on the personnel decision front. Dennis te Kloese now has to answer those questions for the LA Galaxy to get back to being the standard barer of MLS.
The answer as to “who is the next Head Coach of the LA Galaxy?” has probably already answered. Former Portland Timbers manager Caleb Porter was seen court-side at a Lakers game with Te Klose and President Chris Klein. Lots of outlets have reported that Porter has interviewed and likely to get the job.
So Porter’s probably got the job. The bigger question here is how the Galaxy came to this decision. Klein and Porter were college roommates at Indiana University. Porter won MLS Cup with Portland in 2015 but MLS has changed since then. The Galaxy’s last three coaches were all MLS 2.0 style hires and the league had passed them by in many ways.
How extensive of a coaching search did Te Klose do? Did he and Klein come to the same conclusion or did Klein coerce him? What is Porter’s plan to improve upon what he did in Portland and how does he plan to catch up in the new MLS 3.0 Era? Regardless of the answer, the optics favor Klein getting his way. He’ll be less likely to get to pass of blame for this hire.
What to do about Giovani dos Santos:
Giovani dos Santos has been a huge disappointment and waste of money to many supporters. He made up over 30% of the Galaxy’s total player salary in 2018. He’s been injured. Before that, he took it easy so as not to get injured before the World Cup. Right now he seems disinterested in playing soccer. Can the Galaxy get rid of him or can they find a way to get more out of him?
Dos Santos and his return on investment (or lack there of) is one of the biggest things holding the Galaxy back.
Convince Zlatan to stay:
Like the first question, this one appears to be decided. There are reports that Ibrahimovic has decided to stay rather than go to AC Milan or elsewhere. Both sides have been confident that this would be the outcome and it seems the decisions the front office has made recently may have been enough to convince Ibrahimovic to return. But if a deal isn’t finalized, the question is what te Kloese has to do to get Zlatan locked down for 2019.
The rumor is that Ibrahimovic’s new contract to stay with the Galaxy will include a pay raise. The next question for te Kloese and the front office will be what to do with Ibrahimovic becoming DP. They might actually be able to show Giovani dos Santos. If that doesn’t happen, they might be forced to move fan-favorite Romain Alessandrini. No matter what, a tough decision will have to be made.
Learning the nuances of MLS:
Te Kloese has lots of experience in running soccer operations, but there are details unique to MLS he’ll have to become familiar with. With other clubs that have been successful with foreign management, it’s normally been with an MLS-familiar front office leader and a foreign coach. Think Carlos Bocanegra and Tata Martino in Atlanta and Patrick Vieira and Claudio Reyna at New York City. A GM familiar with CONCACAF but not American Soccer per say is uncharted territory.
Te Kloese has the ability to learn on the job. But he if has to learn by making mistakes for a year or two, this could be a setback for the club.
Freeing up budget and TAM:
On that note, the Galaxy will need him to create flexibility to improve the team. The Galaxy shed a lot of bad contracts at the end of the season, which is good. As previously mentioned, they still have Giovani dos Santos. Jorgen Skjelvik his one of the highest paid defenders in MLS and hasn’t played like it. The Galaxy don’t have a starting caliber fullback signed for 2019. There are multiple positions depth is needed.
The Galaxy roster needs work. There’s limited salary space and not as much TAM available as they like. They might have to get rid of a productive DP to keep Ibrahimovic. The front office has to come up with creative ways to make things happen.
Relevance of the Academy:
Ah, the challenge Curt Onalfo and Peter Vagenas weren’t up to. The LA Galaxy loves to prop up the success of their academy that as a team has been successful. But with few exceptions that hasn’t turned that into productivity at the first team level. This is a long term issue that needs to be dealt with, and even if te Kloese crushes it, it won’t help the team in 2019.
The Galaxy need to find a way to get their rich talent pool and productive youth teams to churn out MLS starting caliber players. They’ve abandoned so many of those players since Bruce Arena. Te Kloese solving this would set the club up for sustainable success far beyond his tenure.