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The LA Galaxy Remember That The Little Things Matter

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The LA Galaxy have gone from being hard-stuck in 13th place to top of the Western Conference for two consecutive weeks.
What’s changed?

2023 was a reset year for the Los Angeles Galaxy. A supporter group-organized boycott led to changes at the club’s top level of leadership, ushering in the Will Kuntz era

2024 has been the first full year under Kuntz’s leadership, and early results paint an encouraging picture. Kutz’s Galaxy currently sit in first place in the MLS Western Conference after nine matches in which they’ve won five and scored 21 goals while conceding 15. 

At the same point last year, the Galaxy had a record of 1-3-5 while conceding 14 goals and scoring just seven goals. It’s clear there has been a monumental change from the club that began in 2023 to the one that has come out flying in 2024. 

What’s behind the LA Galaxy’s renaissance?

It’s all in the details.

Will Kuntz has come into the offices at Dignity Health Sports Park and breathed new life into them. A major part of this revamp has been a special attention to the details that make winners. 

Kuntz has made an effort to instill a winning attitude in the team’s culture. He has repeated messages about ensuring the entire organization is rowing in the same direction. 

When speaking with Hercules Gomez for ESPN FC, Kuntz asserted:

“Winning isn’t just a result on the field; it’s a mindset, right? It’s how we go about our business every day. It’s carrying ourselves with pride, being hungry, being competitive, and making sure that every day we’re trying to get better.”

Will Kuntz wants the people working on this team to feel like winners, especially the players. Under his guidance, the LA Galaxy has begun to screen for a player’s mindset from the very beginning to ensure there aren’t any negative influences to derail the winning mindset he is trying to establish in the locker room. 

The market is full of capable footballers, but not all of them have the intangibles that Kuntz believes are fundamental to building a winning team. These include a player’s personality, environment, and character. 

When speaking about the qualities that attracted him to new right back, Miki Yamane Kuntz said:

“The most important things are the experience, the character, and the commitment. So kind of ticks all the boxes for us.”

It’s not just about adding the right players for the Galaxy, but the right personalities.

The days of agents sending the LA Galaxy their surplus superstars are over. That’s a good thing, too, as many of them may have struggled with the other small but important details that have changed in Carson recently.

After the 3-3 draw against Seattle, Mark Delgado revealed how the team has practiced some unique and maybe uncomfortable drills designed to foster a sense of unity. 

When asked about what it meant for the team to be leading the league, Delgado said:

“It means a lot. It means everything we did in the preseason, you know, all the stuff they had us doing in trusting one another, like Navy Seals stuff, pays off, right? All those things that were kind of annoying in the beginning pay off now, right? Cuz now we’re on the field, and we’re trusting one another, and we’re working for each other.”

These military-inspired exercises often involve players forcing themselves into difficult or uncomfortable situations with their teammates, people who were practically strangers prior to the activity. Being in vulnerable positions around others can be extremely uncomfortable, but it causes those who overcome it to put their ego aside to accomplish a common goal.

Thus, while uncomfortable and sometimes agonizing to go through, the Galaxy’s Navy Seal-style training has given them the tools to play for each other selflessly on the pitch. Coming after a season where players like Douglas Costa and often Riqui Puig were criticized for playing for themselves, these practices in humility have given Galaxy players the team-first mentality that can be so crucial to winning titles.

With an entire roster ready to give themselves in support of their teammates, the LA Galaxy have built a team of killers.

Small changes in the way the club has focused its attention, namely in recruiting and training, have fundamentally changed the Galaxy, and the standings prove it. 

Tomorrow’s fixture against Austin FC presents the team with maybe the best chance yet to truly demonstrate how far they’ve come by achieving something they’ve never even done before. 

After picking up consecutive wins against Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes, the Galaxy now have the chance to win three games in a row for the first time since Greg Vanney assumed the head coach role back in 2021.

Tomorrow’s match will reveal if all the small changes have yielded enough to finally erase one of the darkest marks against Vanney’s tenure.
Regardless of what happens, be sure that the Galaxy will continue changing and continue looking to improve, even in ways that we can’t always see. 

PHOTO: LA Galaxy

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