BREAKING NEWS: LA Galaxy fire Curt Onalfo, bring back legend Sigi Schmid
The LA Galaxy have fired head coach Curt Onalfo and hired former Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid to take his place, according to a league source with direct knowledge of the move. The news was first reported by the LA Times’ Kevin Baxter.
It's a major move in a key moment of the season. The Galaxy have struggled under Onalfo, who was hired to take the place of Bruce Arena when he left to take the U.S. men's national team job. Onalfo had knowledge of the Galaxy's talent coming through its academy and USL program, but that has not yet translated to wins for a franchise used to winning. LA is currently in ninth place in the West with just 22 points through 20 games.
The timing is surprising because the Galaxy is also finalizing a deal that will bring the younger dos Santos brother, Jonathan, to MLS, joining Giovani in LA. Jonathan dos Santos has been in fine form for Villarreal, giving the Galaxy a game-changing player who could alter the course of the season.
It's a weird twist of fate for Schmid, who now takes over a Western Conference power just as it adds a marquee Designated Player. Schmid has signed a deal that is guaranteed through the end of the 2018 season, according to a source. His staff is not yet finalized.
Schmid was fired last season with the Sounders just out of playoff contention on the same day as new arrival Nicolas Lodeiro, who would go on to help lead the Sounders to an MLS Cup under the direction of longtime assistant Brian Schmetzer. It was the first MLS Cup in the history of the Sounders, but Schmid was likely left wondering if he might have won his third Cup had he been given the opportunity to coach Lodeiro.
Now the longtime MLS coach will get the chance to reverse the Galaxy's fortunes.
Schmid, 64, is not just any other hire. He is the winningest coach in MLS history and had loads of success in Seattle. He led the Sounders to a Supporters' Shield, four U.S. Open Cup trophies and seven straight playoff appearances. Schmid also won two MLS Cups previous, including in his first stint with the Galaxy, where he coached from 1999-2004, and with the Columbus Crew. The two-time MLS Coach of the Year has more career wins than any other coach in the league's history.
Now he will be tasked with creating some sort of chemistry in a team that has simply lacked the right combinations despite plenty of talent on the roster. Injuries have played their part, both on the back line and in midfield, especially with U.S. national team midfielder Jermaine Jones. But the Galaxy have also lacked a true goal-scorer up top and that's a job not even Jonathan dos Santos can fill.
Schmid will have a wealth of experience upon which to lean, and he now steps into a huge job made even bigger by the impending of a crosstown rival in the City of Angels. LAFC's arrival no doubt had to play a role in the urgency with which LA is clearly treating this season. Missing the playoffs the year before LAFC arrives would be considered a disaster, and in a star-driven town LA now has a marquee coach to join three Designated Players, including one of the top players on the Mexican national team.