Editorial (November 14, 2016) – The 2016 LA Galaxy season was a roller coaster on and off the field. The off season has begun with the Galaxy losing in the conference semifinals. The organization has a number of questions for the off season. First off, Head Coach Bruce Arena is out of contract.
LA Galaxy Off Season: Bruce Arena Should Be Retained But Philosophical Changes Are Needed
In short, Bruce Arena should be retained as general manager and probably head coach. Yes, this season was a failure, but he’s still one of the best coaches in league history. This year was a failure for several reasons, but they should be heading in a better direction in 2017. He’s had bad season’s in the past and gotten his clubs to bounce back.
At the very least, Steven Gerrard will not be returning, allowing them to have more mobile central midfielders. This will allow the Galaxy to return to their 4-4-2 system, which Arena has had unparalleled success with. This was on of the cruxes of their failures this year.
Other than Sigi Schmid, there’s no obvious replacement should the Galaxy choose to part ways with Arena. By experience and success, there’s no other coach on that level available. Playing the ‘who are you going to get if you fire him?’ game, it’s obvious.
Changes are still needed.
While Arena should still remain with the organization as general manager and/or head coach, changes are needed. Arena can still coach tactics and locker room management with the best of them. But some of his philosophies have become archaic in MLS 3.0. The league is trending younger. Some of the most competitive and successful clubs are playing their drafted and academy players more.
Just look at what FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls are building. While the Galaxy are considered to have one of the best academies in the league, their homegrown players have a harder time cracking the first team. Gyasi Zardes is the only one to truly become a first team player.
The DPs are also younger. It’s hard to build chemistry and consistency when a club is signing 35-year-old DPs for two years then signing a different aging player. Look at players like Giovinco, Diego Valeri, and Ignacio Piatti. The league has grown to the point where teams can court quality international players in the prime of their careers. Even world class players like David Villa (age 34) are coming to the league to play more than two years.
These players can be more effective and less injury prone than the big star players in the twilight of their careers. It’s easier to build consistency and chemistry around a DP when you have five years with them. This is especially valuable as that first year in MLS can be a wash for even the big stars.
On some level, the Galaxy are going to need to get younger. Arena has a long history of trusting veterans over the kids. The club needs to look for DPs they can get more years out of, similar to Giovanni dos Santos, who came to Galaxy at the age of 26.
They also need to start giving younger players, homegrown or otherwise a chance to develop. Or Arena needs to off load those assets he think can’t cut it.
Either way, philosophical changes are needed. The Galaxy shouldn’t be looking for DPs who are well into their 30s who will just sell jerseys and tickets. They need to start developing players like Raul Mendiola for the long term by giving them first team minutes. The league will pass them by on some level if they don’t.