The LA Galaxy has named Peter Vagenas as the club’s new General Manager.
A two time MLS Cup winner with the Galaxy, Vagenas will add his new roll to that of the Vice President of Soccer Operations title that he was given in January.
“Not only does he [Vagenas] have a deep affection for the LA Galaxy and knows what we’re about dating back to when this club was founded,” LA Galaxy President Chris Klein told the media, “but he has a knowledge of what we’ve been building.”
“I am confident in the value he brings to the club in understanding us and also understanding the league rules and how we can best build a team that can be successful.”
It is a logical progression for Vagenas who served as the LA Galaxy Academy Director since 2013, turning the academy into one of the most successful youth systems in North America.
Currently there are 15 academy players that are signed to contracts with either the LA Galaxy or the LA Galaxy II.
During a conference call with members of the media, Klein also thanked Bruce Arena for his service and gave some insight into the process of searching for a new coach who the Galaxy hope to have in place by the start of the new year.
Arena had signed a two-year contract extension before the Galaxy bowed out of the MLS playoffs. The extension did not have a release clause, but the Galaxy was willing to let him out of his contract.
Klein said the Galaxy was willing to do it because of the club’s great relationship with the USSF and the fact that Arena’s taking over as national team boss will be good, “for the betterment of soccer in the United States.”
“U.S. Soccer called to get permission. We had a conversation with Bruce and he said he was interested, so we allowed that conversation to happen,” Klein explained.
“I would just come back and thank U.S. Soccer for the way they handled it. Certainly Bruce and everything he has done for this club, made it a fairly easy decision.”
While some would say the end of Arena’s eight year tenure along with the departures of the likes of Robbie Keane is the end of an era, Klein was careful in choosing his words, electing to call this period a “transition.”
In fact, Klein insists that with the age of the DPs and the constantly changing landscape of Major League Soccer, the front office had long been preparing for these changes.
“We’ve been preparing for this transition for a number of years, knowing that at some point, key players and key pieces of this team would move on.” Klein said in a prepared statement at the beginning of the conference call. “We’ve made a number of decisions the past couple of years that would help prepare us for this transition.”
While Arena held both the GM and head coaching positions, the Galaxy felt it was best to get a GM in right away to start working towards a quickly approaching 2017 season while the search for a coach continues.
“Pete [Vagenas] will be involved in the hiring of a new coach,” Klein said of the decision to split the GM and head coaching positions. “In hiring the general manager position, it allows us to go out together in search of the next best manager for the LA Galaxy.”
Klein states that the Galaxy want to look, “both inside the club and outside as there are many great coaches both inside this country and beyond.”
Internally the club has only interviewed LA Galaxy II coach Curt Onalfo.
Externally, all indications point to the next coach being someone with domestic experience.
“Domestic coaches have certainly had more success in our league than those from without. I am not saying that a foreign coach could not be successful with us. We are definitely looking at candidates. We’ve had people contact us from all over the world. Names that everyone would know and some that you wouldn’t. We are not ruling that out. It’s likely we will interview at least one coach that is not from our country. Our search is primarily focused on domestic coaches, but we would like to at least interview one foreign candidate.”
With the expansion draft fast approaching, the Galaxy will want to get a head coach in place sooner rather than later. Until then, Vagenas will be charged with the task of moulding the roster.
“With the expansion draft and other roster decisions that we have to make now, ideally you would like a coach in place, because a relationship between a coach and general manager, I believe, is the most important one that you can have,” Klein stated.
“We don’t have that now and so the decisions that we have to make are being executed by Pete and once we have a head coach in place, then they will collaborate on those decisions going forward.”