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Galaxy, LAFC signal start of battle for Los Angeles with big-name coaching hires

The two Los Angeles soccer teams were in need of new beginnings.

One was obvious. It’s hard to have anything but a new beginning when your team literally doesn’t exist yet. Los Angeles FC has to face the uphill climb that weighs down any expansion team, even with all of the promised resources and glamor that are seemingly on the way.

The other? Well, it was becoming obvious too. Faced with a wave of departures, the LA Galaxy tried to rebuild on the fly. Thus far, it hasn’t worked. The plan, through the first 20 games, failed in the short-term. For a team that’s always in “win-now” mode, it was time to make a change.

On Thursday, two teams just miles apart both made massive announcements, big splashes signaling their intentions to compete for years to come. First came the Galaxy’s announcement that the club had parted ways with first-year coach Curt Onalfo in favor of MLS legend Sigi Schmid. Just hours later, LAFC took their shot, announcing that the club had hired former U.S. Men’s National Team boss Bob Bradley as the club’s first head coach.

Both hires have both a short and long-term view. In the short-term, both teams are looking to compete. The Galaxy need to step up in the here and now while LAFC will be looking to big stars to lead the team from the get-go.

In the long-term, the two are now officially locked into a battle for relevance. Realistically, that battle began on Thursday as both teams stole headlines by announcing their major moves just hours apart. The two may be months away from locking horns on the field, but the battle for the city is now officially underway after months of social media wrangling and campaigning.

Schmid is a face familiar to Los Angeles, even if he’s spent the last decade-and-a-half competing with the Galaxy for MLS supremacy. His MLS resume is matched only by current U.S. Men’s National Team boss Bruce Arena. Two MLS Cups, three Supporters’ Shields, five U.S. Open Cups. Schmid is nothing short of a legend of the American soccer scene.

Almost exactly one year to the day after his firing by the Seattle Sounders, Schmid now finds himself in an opposite scenario. Last season, he was fired just days before the Sounders brought in their own midfield ace in Nicholas Lodeiro. Now, he’s tasked with integrating dos Santos alongside a team with plenty of talent but little success this season. It’s a homecoming for Schmid, who led the Galaxy to the club’s first MLS Cup in 2002.

Schmid will be motivated, especially in Saturday’s debut against his former team. After watching his Sounders team go on to win an MLS Cup under Brian Schmetzer, Schmid will no doubt be looking to prove himself once again. At this point, his resume speaks for itself, but Schmid will obviously be looking to add to it in the wake of his firing last season.

On the other side of LA soccer, Bradley also knows a thing or two about motivation following an unceremonious departure. Just two-and-a-half months after becoming the Premier League’s first American manager, Bradley was fired by Swansea City, dismissed before getting a chance to build the team in his image. It’s an opportunity he’ll no doubt get with the expansion LAFC, and it’s one he’s succeeded in before.

Bradley’s 1998 Chicago Fire team is still the one all expansion teams are compared to. Featuring a unique mix of foreign and international players, Bradley’s Fire went on to win the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup double. No other expansion team has gotten anywhere near that type of success since. Bradley won’t be expected to reach that level from the get-go, but he has the MLS track record and has proven to be an expert tactician with both the U.S. Men’s National Team and during his stint in Europe.

The LA soccer scene has changed in countless ways since Bradley departed Chivas USA in 2006. Now, he takes charge of their spiritual successor, a team that’s looking to shake up the city’s soccer culture from within the city proper.

Both teams face tests in the years to come. Can the Galaxy overcome their Carson location to stay relevant in a famously-ambivalent LA market? Can LAFC realistically hope to make up 20 years of lost time in an effort to catch or even surpass their local rivals?

The battle truly began on Thursday as the team took part in their first ever battle, and the two men now tasked with leading the charge are certainly aware of what lies ahead.

6 comments
  • TheFrenchOne

    Ok, I’m starting to think that SBI writers craft these over-the-top titles just to bait the readers. “Big-name coaching hires?!” Come on, Ryan.

    Look, I respect Bradley for everything he has done and for testing himself at the highest level. He takes real confidence to go coach in Egypt, to go to France’s second division and almost earn promotion, to take on perhaps the crappiest coaching gig in the EPL last year. I truly applaud him for that. But Bob ain’t Pep or Ancelloti. He feels like a pretty safe hire to me. Kinda surprised that LAFC chose him.

    And Schmid, don’t even get me started. I’m a pretty unhappy LAG fan right now. Schmid would be an adequate stop-gap hire for the rest of the 2017 season, but that’s it. Not sure what the team is doing with this hire on top of JDS, but it’s not going to move the needle (on the field or with the fans).

    Like

    • UclaBruinGreat

      French, I really have no feelings on the Schmid hire, I am taking a wait and see approach. I will say though that the reaction here on SBI was way different than the reaction on MLS’ website, which I find interesting. Seems like people here are negative on the hire, but on MLS many are positive (especially Galaxy fans like you and I are). Since MLS’ website gets way more traffic than SBI I have to assume that the majority of Galaxy fans are happy with this hire.

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      • TheFrenchOne

        UCLA- is that the other cool place to hang? Can’t say I spend much time on the MLS site. I how I’m wrong about Sigi, for the Galaxy’s sake, but I was def disappointed. Alessandrini has been the only bright spot of an otherwise rough season. I believe they can make the playoffs, but they won’t go deep

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  • bottlcaps

    LAFC can capitalize on the novelty of a new team and new digs for only so long before they have to produce. Bradley can produce. He is a good coach, there is no doubt. But to be a good coach in the MLs you have to be familiar with rosters and player acquisition rules in the MLS, different from any other country. TaTa Martinez had a leg up when Bocanegra and Atlanta specifically hired a staff to understand and go through the arcane MLS rules to bring in players. LAFC, to my knowledge, has not done that, so its up to the coach. This leaves out the possibility of a Scheloto, or foreign coach, not familiar with the MLS.

    Sigi Schmid is an institution in LA, He grew up a few miles away, Coached UCLA to several NCAA titles and was personally recruited by Phil Anschultz to lead the LAG in ’99. He is right away comfortable there, know a lot of people, (Bruce Arena USMNT office is right down the hall) and will right the ship, hopefully quickly if they want to make the playoffs. He only has a contract to the end of ’18, no long term deal here, so the LAG are hedging thier bets. In short, I think, like the USMNT and Bruce Arena, they had to bring in someone familiar to right the ship. he is the most accomplished MLS coach, and had he not been facing the LAG at every turn, would have produced the Sounders, an MLS Cup, during his tenure there.
    I am biased, as I know Sigi for a long time, but I hope he is successful,
    Having Bradley and Schmid, 11 miles apart in two stadiums will give “derby” a new meaning as they are so close together, and it will be a good battle for the hearts and minds of Angelenos.

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  • two cents/lowercase letters guy

    who are pep and ancelloti? i Don’t know, but i do know that bradley and schmid are American coaching legends. BIG signings indeed in the usa, as the article clearly says.

    Like

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