2023 was a difficult and unusual year for fans of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Supporting the club throughout one of the worst seasons in its history was often a thankless task. Fortunately, supporters of the blue-white-and-gold finally have reasons to be hopeful. On this day of thanksgiving, let’s forget last season’s tribulations and consider some concepts Galaxians should be grateful for.
When it comes to awful seasons, the LA Galaxy experienced it all in 2023. Things were off from the jump, as Chris Klein, a president who earned his team nothing but sanctions, shocked many supporters by remaining in his role at the start of the season. The organization’s willingness to accept mediocrity from its leader sparked ire among supporters, who banded together to form a historic boycott. While they were successful in outing Klein, fans were rewarded for their efforts by watching their team crumble to an injury crisis. The punches kept rolling all season long and resulted in a campaign where the Galaxy conceded 67 goals, tied for most in club history.
One thing that the club will surely be grateful for is the opportunity to move on from last season and the so-called old way of doing things. With Chris Klein no longer at the helm, the club has the opportunity to commit to genuine reform. A slight restructuring in the front office is indicative, that although they turn slowly at first, the wheels of change have indeed begun to churn in Carson.
Following Klein’s dismissal, the LA Galaxy announced a restructuring in September. The club filled the ex-president’s vacuum via a series of internal promotions. The most significant of these was Tom Braun’s promotion from Senior Vice-President of Soccer and Business Operations to President of Business Operations and Chief Operation Officers. Per the team’s announcement, Braun will “oversee and lead all day-to-day facets of LA Galaxy business operations and will report directly to Beckerman”. What does this mean for the club? That the Klein era is truly over!
While replacing a failed leader with one of his underlings hardly seems like the way forward, it’s important to realize how different the incumbent was from the club’s current president. Unlike Chris Klein, Tom Braun is an experienced and competent businessman. As his previous role suggests, Braun has a degree and a career worth of experience in operating the business side of a soccer club. Considering how Klein’s business ineptitude resulted in sanctions that stripped the club of the ability to reinforce itself until just this transfer window, Galaxy fans may be grateful to know that Braun is everything that Klein was not.
After giving in to the changes fans demanded, it seems the club has realized how needy their supporters really are. Having spent the decade since their last title hearing non-stop complaints from fans, the Galaxy are making moves to make sure they truly listen from now on. Apart from firing the fans’ scapegoat and setting up their club for future improvements, the Galaxy aims to further please them by setting up the all-new Fan Council.
This initiative aims to empower the club to make decisions that reflect the desires of their supporters. Given the diversity in the community, one of the biggest challenges for the club is to identify the specific actions they can take that would satisfy their needs. To figure this out, the Galaxy has selected a group of 15 council members who they feel represent the voices of all fans. By inviting them to share their suggestions and input in organized forums, the front office expects to understand exactly what fans want. The ideas mentioned in these forums by the council’s members will be understood by the club as the wishes and feelings of their supporters and should become the basis for some decisions going forward.
Now that the club has competent leadership and the capacity to understand their supporter’s wishes, it becomes clear that tides of change have been swelling for quite some time. As those who have frequented Costco’s food courts are painfully aware, too much change can absolutely be a bad thing (rip to the combo pizza and the onion crank). Fortunately for Galaxians, their club seems committed to changing in all the right areas. One key thing that will remain the same is who owns and bankrolls the LA Galaxy. Supporters will continue to enjoy ownership under AEG as they go into 2024. Galaxy fans should absolutely be thankful for AEG’s willingness to give their club a generous budget every single year.
Having money to spend is only ever a good thing. This is especially true for the Galaxy in 2024, as they are finally free from the sanctions that restricted their activity in the transfer window. This winter will be the first time since 2022 that the club is free to sign whoever they please (so long as they make sure to avoid unsavory business practices in the future).
Flush with cash and itching to stretch their muscles in the transfer window once again, MLS roster rules are really the only major consideration they have in terms of team building. This is facilitated by a favorable contract situation. With the ability to decide on the futures of nearly half the squad, the Galaxy will have no shortage of contracts they could release should they identify and acquire the talent they’re looking for to improve.
When comparing the Galaxy’s contract situation to that of wooden spoon winner Toronto FC, it becomes clear that the Galaxy have been intentional in organizing their contract structure in this way. Toronto is bogged down with many expensive and longer contracts, limiting their ability to replace underperformers. Considering all the other administrative failures, fans should be grateful to know that the club has managed to prepare itself to potentially have a monster transfer window.
The most recent development that should spark joy in the hearts of Galaxy supporters is the impact of Lionel Messi on the MLS. Since he came into the league, rumors have been floating around that the league plans on adding another Designated Player (DP) spot to all teams in 2024. After the most recent reports, this rumor appears to be picking up steam.
Supporters across the league are already dreaming of their team’s next big singing. Galaxy fans might have the most daydreaming to do, as their club would be set up to sign THREE DPs in a single transfer window. After a season where Riqui Puig literally ran himself to an early end of the season as the club’s only consistently available DP, deepening the squad this winter will be crucial. With at the very least two DP spots available for 2024, it is likely that the Galaxy will welcome a new pair of big contributors soon.
In short, times seem to truly be changing for the better, and this alone should be enough to inspire a feeling of thankfulness among fans. Supporters will be almost as relieved that the past is behind them as they will be grateful for the improved results should the Galaxy finally succeed in creating a competitive squad. Let’s see what the LA Galaxy can do in the heat of winter in Southern California.
PHOTO: LA Galaxy