What is happening to the Los Angeles Galaxy?
Los Angeles is currently riding an eight-game winless streak, with their last victory coming on June 14th against San Jose. In addition to their struggles on the field, there is turmoil in the front office with the recent departures of Alexi Lalas and Ruud Gullit.
Despite their struggles, the Galaxy were near the top of the Western Conference going into the All-Star break July 24th. Now, LA has plunged to fourth in conference, just a point away from being overtaken by Chivas and pushed out of a playoff spot.
Why can't LA seem to put together a consistent streak of good form?
Let's take a look at the roster. Aside from the towering figures of Landon Donovan and David Beckham, what is there? Edson Buddle is currently third in MLS in goals scored. Greg Vanney is a veteran of two World Cups. Carlos Ruiz has scored 39 international goals for Guatemala since 1998, and has 81 goals in previous stints in LA and FC Dallas. Chris Klein and Peter Vagenas are also solid options.
But there is little else. Mismanagement by the previously mentioned Lalas has left Los Angeles with MLS' two biggest stars and a supporting cast that is less than stellar. Remember Abel Xavier? The former Portuguese international spent time with Liverpool and Benfica before ending up in LA under Lalas' regime. He was absolutely atrocious in a Galaxy uniform, so they cut him loose earlier this season.
Despite his poor form on the field, Xavier opted to blame LA's problems on Gullit on his way out, saying, "It's about the relationship when you come in to work and try hard for the coach. They don't fight for him and they don't believe in him."
But perhaps Xavier brings up a valid point. Coaching and front office malpractice have definitely had an effect on this club. Frank Yallop and Steve Sampson weren't exactly in the upper echelons of the coaching world. And Alexi Lalas tried to bring a policy similar to that of Real Madrid's galacticos to Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, the policy failed in LA just like it did in Madrid.
Under Lalas, the Galaxy have lost goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, striker Herculez Gomez, and Alejandro Moreno. All three have continued to have very successful MLS careers since leaving Los Angeles. They would be very solid members of the team had they stayed in Los Angeles.
Perhaps Cobi Jones is the beginning of a new era in LA. He's an original MLS player, and a Galaxy fan favorite. Jones is also a respected US international, with 164 caps to his name. Players will be inclined to listen and respect him because of his knowledge and understanding of MLS.
Jones' first result in charge was a draw against neighbors Chivas USA, but given their recent run of form, a draw against a major rival who is also in the thick of the playoff hunt can be taken as a positive. This team has showed incredibly inconsistent form for the past few seasons, and they are hopeful that Jones will be able to turn the ship around.