Following an encouraging end to the 2022 campaign, finishing 4th in the Western Conference and narrowly losing out to city rivals LAFC in the MLS Conference Semifinals – LA Galaxy was poised to reclaim its status as one of the most successful teams in the division, and bridge the gap to the summit of the league.
Four games into the 2023 season and things are not going according to plan.
LA Galaxy, one of the favorite sports teams in California to bet on, have dropped to underdogs on most upcoming matches due to their performance so far.
After salvaging a point against Vancouver Whitecaps in their first home game of the campaign at the Dignity Health Sports Park, LA Galaxy sits 12th in the Western Conference – amassing three points in four outings (0W, 3D, 1L), scoring only two goals.
However, the team’s on-field performance continues to be secondary to the growing protests by hundreds of Galaxy supporters, unified in their desire to push Chris Klein out of the club. According to Andrew Alesana, President of the “LA Riot Club” – an independent Galaxy fan group – “it has got to a stage where many supporters want him [Klein] out regardless of what happens on the pitch,” adding that “a conference semifinal is not good enough – we strive for more.”
Despite current results, LA Galaxy is firmly one of the most successful franchises in the division, with a record of five MLS Cups, eight Western Conference season titles, four Supporters’ Shields, two U.S. Open Cups, and one CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Under Klein’s reign as Club President since 2014, the club’s past highs were met with record lows, with LA Galaxy finishing bottom of the Western Conference in 2017 – a feat unacceptable for a club of this reputation and financial clout.
Four head coaches and three general managers collectively failed to contain this decline – even one of the most clinical strikers in European football, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, could not bring the club back to its glory days. In stark contrast, rivals LAFC – inducted into the league in 2018 – have been a resounding success in their brief time in the division, winning an MLS Cup and two Supporters’ Shields in rapid succession.
Klein, a steady presence in his playing days, was immediately hired into Galaxy’s front office after his retirement, serving as Senior Director of the club academy and Vice President before being promoted to President and Chief of Business Operations in 2017.
Earlier this year, a month before the planned announcement of Klein’s contract extension, he was suspended by the league for violating MLS salary guidelines, with the team being fined $1 million and another million in future allocation funds. Despite Klein’s off-field role being unchanged, his role as a sporting director has been delegated to head coach Greg Vanney.
While results on the pitch continue to decline, the Galaxy has the highest annual revenue of any MLS club, setting records for ticket sales and sponsorships – including a lucrative $35 million sponsorship renewal with Herbalife Nutrition.
Nonetheless, a lack of direction in recruitment and coaching, on-field capitulations, and off-field mismanagement have disillusioned the club’s fanbase, with many members of the supporter factions refusing to return to their seats.