Thursday was a monumental day in Los Angeles soccer, with both MLS teams busy dropping news. All told, there were two coaching announcements and a major player signing. Let’s pick up the scene in chronological order.
First, the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter reported the LA Galaxy had fired Curt Onalfo as head coach and appointed Sigi Schmid to replace him. Schmid, the man with the most wins all-time in MLS and silverware at all of his previous stops, won’t have to move for his next job, as he’s in his hometown, the city where he led UCLA for almost 20 years before become Galaxy coach for the first time. In his first stint there, from 1999-2004, he won an MLS Cup, a U.S. Open Cup, and a Supporters’ Shield.
What’s rather surprising is that it seemed that when Schmid was fired by the Galaxy the first time, bridges had been burned, and the odds of him returning to the club were small. That was before Onalfo’s tough half-season in charge of the first team, where the team went 6-10-4 in MLS regular season play, good for 9th out of 12 teams in the Western Conference. Perhaps most damning, LA won just one home game in league play under Onalfo, out of 10 tries, and it looked like the team was going nowhere fast. In that light, it’s less surprising that LA reached out to Schmid, and the coach took the call, given his obvious interest in getting back into coaching after being fired by the Seattle Sounders a year ago.
But that was just the beginning of a wild day in LA soccer. Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep reported later in the morning that 2018 MLS expansion side LAFC would hire Bob Bradley as their first head coach, news that was subsequently confirmed by the club in a rather unusual manner.
— LAFC (@LAFC) July 27, 2017
Bradley returns to MLS after leaving following the 2006 season, when he led Chivas USA to an impressive one-season turnaround after a disastrous debut campaign. Since then, he’s coached the U.S. Men’s National Team, the Egyptian National Team, Norwegian side Stabaek, French club Le Havre and in his highest profile job, at Welsh team Swansea City for 85 days last year.
Given Bradley’s track record in American soccer overall and MLS, his experience with the Chicago Fire, where he won a double in the team’s debut season, and then year-after expansion campaign at Chivas USA, it seems LAFC could have done far, far worse, and seem to be getting a manager ready to leave another mark on MLS history, for the good.
With the coaching situations dominating the MLS news cycle, the Galaxy had the last salvo of the day between the burgeoning rivals, announcing the transfer of Mexican midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, brother of current Galaxy player Giovani.
The 27-year-old joins from Spanish club Villarreal, and is expected to fill a hole in central midfield right away for the Galaxy. A holding midfielder whose passing is his strong suit over playing a destroyer role, he won’t score many goals but will be counted on to lift the Galaxy up the table.
And while we don’t know if these teams just happened to announce their news on the same day or if there was some coordination (or sabotage) done, it’s safe to say there have been few days in MLS history as monumental in Los Angeles as Thursday was. Will there be more days filled with news from both teams? Stay tuned.