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Nowak tops list of candidates to replace Gullit


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Ruud Gullit is packing his bags and Alexi Lalas is looking for work for the first time in years. What is left in the wake of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s blood-letting is a team in need of direction and in desperate need of someone capable of cleaning up the mess.

If Gullit’s struggles reminded us of anything, it is that coaches who are unfamiliar with MLS are always going to struggle to adapt to the league, its players and its unique rules. With that in mind, the Galaxy must seriously consider candidates with knowledge of the league, its teams and its players.

That is why, according to West Coast sources, U.S. Olympic team head coach and U.S. national team assistant Peter Nowak is a leading candidate to become the Galaxy’s new head coach. AEG president Tim Leiweke has yet to contact any candidates, but sources tell SBI that Nowak is at the top of Leiweke’s short list for the job.

Nowak spent three seasons as head coach of D.C. United, leading the team to an MLS Cup title in 2004, his first season in charge. Nowak left D.C. after seeing out his contract following the 2006 season, after which he joined the staff of U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley as Bradley’s lead assistant.

Nowak is currently in China with the U.S. Olympic team, which plays a crucial match against Nigeria on Wednesday.

So why Nowak? The Galaxy clearly need someone with MLS experience, but also someone with championship experience. Nowak is considered as a coach who could step in and salvage a sinking ship in Los Angeles this year.

A former Polish national team star and standout midfielder with the Chicago Fire, which he captained to the 1998 MLS Cup title, Nowak has shown an ability to work well with veterans and young players alike.

Galaxy interim president Tom Payne would likely get an endorsement for Nowak from his own older brother, D.C. United president Kevin Payne, who hired Nowak to coach D.C. in 2004.

What other candidates are in the mix? You can expect former U.S. national team head coach Bruce Arena to be interviewed. Arena still boasts the best resume of any American coach in soccer history and expressed a desire to get back into coaching when interviewed in late spring. His relationship with Donovan is well-documented, and he also has a long-standing relationship with current interim Galaxy head coach Cobi Jones, who played for him on the national team. Arena struggled with the New York Red Bulls, but considering the list of accomplished coaches to struggle in New York, it isn’t likely to be held against Arena in this process.

So what’s my take? Nowak is the perfect candidate and makes the most sense. I also think a re-charged Bruce Arena could step in and straighten things out. After that, it’s tough to think of too many candidates who fit the MLS experience criteria that would also be capable of jumping right into the current LA mess and turning things around this year.

Who do you think the Galaxy should hire to straighten things out? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Here! Here! The Galaxy need to get rid of Lieweke! Clean House!

    Galaxy short list for coaches:


    Marcelo Balboa

    Alexi Lalas

    Saving the best for last:

    Cobi Jones

    Give him a chance. The season is almost lost by now anyway, what do the Galaxy have to loose? The management at the Galaxy Stinks. I am a season ticket holder and I can not tell you how offended I am bye the lack of competence in the Front Office.

    LA Jammer out!

  2. Ditto on the El Pibe, who is having great success in St. Pete. FL and our beloved Ray *best quote in futbol* Hudson!!! Miss them much…p.s. Again say what you will about JCO, but please leave his wife out of it, as it is a highly inappropriate and disrespectful remark.

  3. LA can have Nowak and his strange lineups. Good luck LA with 3 in the back of an already leaky defense. I can’t imagine his authoritarian style working in LA. Many of us United fans didn’t think too highly of him in DC, are not thrilled with him with the U23 team and would be happy to see him go somewhere else in MLS. And, would love to see Arena back in DC so hope he doesn’t go West.

  4. Besides, Nowak and Arena are more strong personalities who would conflict w/management. Neither would last a full season because neither would tolerate the Galaxy’s loony management.

    Cobi’s going to be coach for longer than anybody thinks because he knows how to get along in that environment.

  5. If I’m Nowak, I don’t go anywhere near the Galaxy. That club has burned four coaches (Schmid, Sampson, Yallop, Gullit) in four years — each of whom won something signficiant in his career (MLS Cups, U.S. Open Cups, NCAA championships, an FA cup in Gullit’s case). What’s the problem? For one thing, expectations are unrealistically high. For another, management always seems to meddle. Now, you’ve got Beckham’s people meddling. Who wants to put up with that?

    That’s another reason why the Galaxy won’t get Arena. He would want too much control and Leiweke won’t give it to him.

  6. I think for the moment Cobi will be fine. No to both Nowak and Arena. I think they need to go for Mariner. He’s not the sexy pick but he would turn LA into the winner MLS wants for the ‘jewel’ of the league. Question is would he want to leave a successful team in NE to be on a somewhat sinking ship? Would AEG even give him enough time to turn it around. I felt that Ruud was bring a sexy style of football to LA so a longshot would be for AEG to look into Mexico or some other South American country for an established coach to pick up where Ruud left off. That coach also needs some vet MLS staffers behind him to help with scouting and player development.

  7. I don’t think Arena struggled that much with the Red Bulls. In fact, I think he was a good coach and wish the team hadn’t fired him. I think he could have improved the team further with another year at the helm. His firing had little to do with him and much more to do with an egomaniac general manager who left the Red Bulls to become a vice president at a rival softdrink maker.

    I’m happy that loser is gone and I don’t think he gave Arena a fair shake at the end of a relatively successful season. I think Arena would be a good coach for LA and could handle the high profile players on the team. I’m not sure that Nowak could do that given his demeanor and the problems he was having with DC players the season before he left DC (where his cracking the whip led to disgruntled and fatigued players).

  8. First of all, the Galaxy need to give Cobi a fair shot before they start naming possible replacements.

    The guys who wrote about Paul Mariner have it right. He is the perfect fit for the Gs. Consider:

    -He’s an Englishman who’s goal scoring record would demand the respect from the players (epsecially Beckham).

    -Mariner has worked in MLS for years and understands how the league works. He is considered one of the top assistants in the league.

    -He is also considered by some to be the mastermind behind many of the New England’s great drafts, and that skill would be important to a team that would need a steady stream of young talent at a bargain price to fit alongside the superstars.

    -He’s a player’s coach who motivates guys to play hard.

    -He would bring a 3-5-2 system in which Beckham would thrive (2 defensive minded midfielders behind him would free him up to attack), and could allow Donovan to roam in attacking role.

    If AEG finally gets thier head out of thier a**, they will see he is the logical choice.

  9. I think we all agree that the salary cap is a problem for a variety of reasons, including re-making a club overnight. That said, watch DCU, NE, CHI, HOU, or hell, even FCD lately and tell me that you can’t build a team that plays a damn good game and can compete outside MLS pretty well (at least for a game or two). Bottom line is that they have made horrible personnel moves and are paying the price. Look at what Nicol does year in and year out- find and identify talent within the rules. The cap needs to go up but it’s a hell of a lousy excuse for this debacle. LAG is on the way to becoming the Newcastle of MLS…


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