State of the Galaxy: Fan protests, botched transfer highlight LA’s troubling offseason

January 23, 2020;  Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Galaxy team president Chris Klein speaks before introducing player Javier Hernandez at Dignity Health Sports Park.  Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Galaxy president Chris Klein has become the butt of fan ridicule as the franchise has declined over the past few years. (Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

LOS ANGELES – When it rains, it pours. And right now, it looks like a black cloud is hanging comfortably over the LA Galaxy.

The most successful club in Major League Soccer history has had a rough offseason given the standards they believe they should be performing at.

Let’s start with Julián Araujo, who by all accounts was destined to move to the Barcelona of his dreams due to a $4 million transfer. It seemed like a huge step in the right direction, but of course it was too good to be true. The deal ended in failure due to a “computer issue” that caused her to arrive 18 seconds past the deadline, therefore preventing her from going through.

“I don’t know all the ins and outs of this process,” head coach Greg Vanni said. “I know that the documentation has to be entered into the computer system, and it has to be done by a certain time – and this is done by the receiving team. My understanding is that there was some kind of computer problem or bug in the process that caused the final documentation to be delayed by about 18 seconds. This is what I hear.”

Galaxy has yet to receive official documentation from FIFA, which is further confusing.

“There are parts of this discussion that still need to be sorted out. We don’t have complete clarity on all of these things, so we’re still waiting a bit for now, as [Julian] too,” Vanni added. “It was a roller coaster for him.”

The 21-year-old defender has been open about his hopes for a move in the past, and it was the perfect move. It would continue to build an already promising future while Galaxy would demonstrate its ability to sell internationally, bringing in cash that would help fill in some of the gaps on the narrow list.

Instead, Araujo will have to shift focus somehow and prepare for the next MLS season, at least until the summer, while the crushing thought of what could be in Spain lingers in the back of his mind. This is just one of many things in a long list of things that have gone wrong with the Galaxy over the past few months.

In December, MLS announced sanctions against the club for violating the salary budget and squad rules during the acquisition of Christian Pavon in 2019. These sanctions included a $1 million fine and the loss of $1 million in future general money. The biggest punishment has been the transfer ban, which prevents Galaxy from signing any international players during the summer transfer window, an area they excelled in last season with the signings of Ricky Puig and Gaston Brugmann.

General manager Dennis te Kloese has since left the club, and the perpetrator of this rule violation was Galaxy president Chris Klein, whom fans have come to despise over the years. Whether it’s bad contracts, a lack of scouts, or general sloppiness, the Galaxy as an organization has fallen into decline while others in the league, especially the one just a few miles from Highway 110, seem to be thriving.

Klein’s tenure has not been an easy one for a club with such prestige in MLS. His contract expired at the end of 2022, but the LA Times reported in early January that he had been renewed, putting an end to speculation that he might not continue following the consequences of breaking lineup rules.

The day after the renewal news, five Galaxy supporter groups released a joint statement saying that the leadership of these groups would boycott the games until changes were made to the front office.

Fans have reached a breaking point and believe that this is the only way to achieve any change. Either AEG, Galaxy’s parent company, is really naive about what’s going on, or they’re turning a blind eye.

KANSAS CITY, KS - AUG 06: Head coach
Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney has suspended his job ahead of the upcoming MLS season. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Galaxy played its first pre-season game that was open to the public, and it took place at the largely empty Health Dignity Sports Park. The outcome of the game, a 2–1 loss to the NYCFC with Douglas Costa missing a tie-kick in the closing moments, was irrelevant. The story of the evening was that a group of fans went outside the stadium to protest before the game.

The juxtaposition of people expressing their dissatisfaction with the galaxy in the shadow of statues of David Beckham and Landon Donovan in an area called Legends Plaza was a cruel reminder of the glory days of the past and the grim present.

Memories seem to be the only thing the Galaxy can cling to, and that’s just not acceptable for what should be a top team in MLS. They may not have evolved as the league continued to change rapidly, but they don’t seem to be trying to. Putting forward the “one to five MLS Cup” argument doesn’t add up when you look at what’s happened recently.

The Galaxy have only made the playoffs twice in the past six seasons, being eliminated by the LAFC rivals in both of those games just to make it a little edgier.

The biggest thing for Galaxy fans to celebrate was Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s two years, which resulted in a lot of goals and hilarious headlines. That’s about it. However, he sold a lot of tickets, so mark it as a success in the eyes of AEG.

But with “Klein Out” comments littering Galaxy’s Twitter and Instagram posts, the noise of this boycott will only grow.

“I’m trying to get the team ready for the season,” Vanni said, answering questions that have nothing to do with him. “We have high hopes for the group this season as we continue to build and move forward. And the guys need the support of the fans to succeed.”

Can you imagine Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez entering a virtually empty stadium week after week? He’s one of the most outspoken players in MLS and that doesn’t sit well with him.

Now imagine if the team starts badly. But perhaps if the star player says something, the Galaxy will be forced to act.

It’s a simple solution, really. If Klein cares about the club, he should resign. If AEG takes care of the club, they should force him to resign.

Actions mean more than words. And right now, those in important positions of leadership are exhibiting neither.


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