Do you know what would be a really great birthday gift for Los Angeles Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney?
For his team to avenge their 3-0 May loss against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday and show Vanney just how far the club has come under him.
Vanney, who celebrated his 47th birthday last week, has done a remarkable job transforming the culture of the club, overhauling the roster, and has the Galaxy off to an incredible start.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) June 11, 2021
“He’s totally flipped the script and improved the team,” Galaxy fan and merch creator Luis Vela stated. “He’s gotten the most out of Chicha, has him hungry, and has the team on the same level.”
The Galaxy sits third in the Western Conference, is second in points per game in MLS, and has beaten both LAFC and San Jose under Vanney already, but more importantly, there is a renewed belief in the team and the fact that these places are where the Galaxy belongs.
To get a sense of how complete a turnaround, it’s been, a win for the Galaxy on Saturday will equal the same amount of points they had through 19 games last year under the previous manager.
We can see the immediacy of how the Galaxy has responded to Vanney, and his impact in that they will have done it in 10 games less than last year.
“Vanney is the biggest acquisition the team made,” 32-year-old Marvin Segovia declared while cooking for his fellow G’s at the Blue, White, and Gold pop-up. “He’s what the team needed on the pitch and off of it. It’s the first time in a long time that the club feels like a family.”
Only the reversal at Seattle and a loss at Portland by the same scoreline, has marred the Galaxy’s season and the good vibes so far. But a win on Saturday’s full capacity match at Dignity Health Sports Park will take Los Angeles into first place in the standings, at least temporarily.
That will leave the Galaxy just four points off their total haul for the 2020 season with most of the campaign yet to play and is proof that whatever Vanney is preaching, his players are taking to heart.
For proof, before the first game of the season against Inter Miami, veteran Sacha Kljestan wrote the Vanney gospel on the team whiteboard and set the tone.
“Play like brothers. Play like family.”
“The vibes in the team right now are just so much better than last year, so much different than last year,” veteran Sacha Kljestan said of the team environment. “Everyone’s excited, everyone’s been feeling good, we’re feeling like a real family who comes to work every day to better ourselves as individuals and as a team, and it’s showing.”
Sebastian Lletget, Julian Araujo, and Jona dos Santos have each individually praised the much-improved spirit of the team and the feeling of closeness between the players, thanks to Vanney’s influence.
The best-dressed coach in @MLS.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) April 25, 2021
It is telling that despite the roster makeover, Vanney and his coaching staff have been able to get the team to buy into that simple message and have them playing so well, so quickly. And even when the team hasn’t played well, they have been able to grind out results like the 2-0 win against Austin thanks in part to smart substitutions by Vanney.
Saturday’s test will differ greatly from a stroll against an expansion side though.
For the Galaxy to return to its rightful place as the undisputed king of clubs in MLS, they will have to beat top sides to get there.
Seattle’s recent success makes them one of the teams L.A. will have to beat consistently to be considered a serious candidate for a run at the MLS Cup.
Saturday’s match against the Sounders will be an enormous opportunity for the Galaxy to give Vanney an unforgettable birthday gift.
Featured Image: Los Angeles Galaxy