LA Galaxy officially announced former captain Peter Vagenas has been named their new General Manager. He will also maintain his position as the Galaxy’s Vice President of Soccer Operations. Thus half of Bruce Arena’s former position has been filled.
Arena, who was both head coaching and general manager of LA Galaxy, announced his reinstatement as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team last week, and club president Chris Klein confirmed today that there was no clause in his contract allowing such a leave but that the relationship between the Galaxy, Arena and U.S. Soccer was one that precluded such details. “We just let him out of his contract and go to U.S. Soccer, ” Klein explained in a teleconference call with reporters.
“Pete Vagenas has been a key piece of this transition team. Pete has built our academy program into one of the best in the nation. For the past year and a half, Pete has also worked closely with Bruce,” club president Chris Klein said. “Pete has been part of this club since its early years and embodies everything the Galaxy stands for. … Pete will have all the resources he needs to be successful in this new role.”
Vagenas, a former Bruin, was drafted to LA Galaxy in 2000, where he remained for nine years, helping win the 2002 and 2005 MLS Cups, before moving on to Seattle, Vancouver and Chivas USA. After 13 years as a player, “Pasedena Pete” became director of the Galaxy’s Academy in 2013 followed by his promotion to vice president of soccer operations in 2016. As the Galaxy’s Academy Director, Vagenas helped establish their academy as a leader with 15 players signing professional contracts in LA Galaxy and Galaxy II. This year, he oversaw the launch of the LA Galaxy Girls’ U-14/15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 Academy teams that will compete in the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy League next fall.
As General Manager, Vagenas will oversee the LA Galaxy, LA Galaxy II and Galaxy Academy, including player acquisition, scouting and management of the club’s coaching staffs. His first task will be in hiring a new head coach, to direct the new era of the Galaxy, which will face a new competitor in the local professional soccer space – LAFC – as it works to remain a top team in an ever-growing league in which MLS 2.0 teams are becoming more competitive as Cup contenders.
“I feel that my experiences within this organization will allow me to succeed in this role as the LA Galaxy continue to grow as a premier soccer club in North America. I look forward to working with both our front office and coaching staff as we push to win championships while further aligning all of our operations within the LA Galaxy, LA Galaxy II and the LA Galaxy Academy.” – Peter Vanegas
Klein also confirmed that they are looking at both internal candidates and external candidates for the position of head coach, and that the focus will be within MLS, because “a coach has to have belief not only in our club, but in our league.” He named one internal potential – Curt Onalfo, current Los Dos head coach, excluded former assistant coach Dave Sarachan from the list, and admitted that Sigi Schmidt would be an obvious candidate to speak with though they have not discussed it yet. Klein did not rule out a foreign coach indicating that he is “not saying a foreign coach won’t be successful with us… At least one will be interviewed though domestic [coaches] have better luck with league.” That’s a realistic position to take, but given that LA Galaxy has consistently pushed the envelop with player acquisitions and league trends, it’s still within the realm of possibility.
One thing is clearer at least. The position of head coach, the second half of Bruce Arena’s “impossible-to-replace” role, will be filled by the end of the year. “We know that a head coach has to be integrated into that process and needs to have a voice in that process. The sooner, the better for us, and we expect to have a new coach in place before the new year, ” Chris Klein concludes.
Feature Photo credit: Robert Mora, Jon Lorentz, Stephanie Romero