I had one thought when the news dropped on Tuesday morning that Greg Vanney had stepped down as Toronto FC head coach.
I’m know I’m not alone in making that assumption about Vanney’s next stop, and I don’t expect LA Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese needs to read this column. He knows better than anyone else what his club needs. He knows what Vanney did at Toronto FC. He knows the long and strong connections between the Galaxy, the city of Los Angeles and the man who took the Reds from laughing stocks to a veritable giant in MLS and Concacaf. He needs more than just a head coach.
The way I see it, this is Bruce Arena in 2008 all over again, only updated for the current iteration of the Galaxy and Major League Soccer. LA are down on their luck and in need of direction – short-, medium- and long-term – and Vanney is out of contract, looking for his next opportunity. The hire checks every box and the timing is close to perfect for both parties.
Vanney is a club original, a Best XI defender who delivered trophies and understands the Galaxy’s history intimately. Vanney built academies that churned out talent, from Real Salt Lake’s setup in Casa Grande to Toronto FC with a stop at the Galaxy in between. Vanney’s proven he can balance big names and even bigger egos with squad and youth development. Vanney took “big” club from down on its luck to juggernaut. Most importantly, he’s got the trophies to prove it.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy are a project, attractive because of their history, spending profile and academy catchment, but a project nonetheless.
Guess who likes a project and whose coaching staff in Toronto was full of ties to Southern California?
And guess who needs a break after an insane 2020, but still has the itch to get back to work?
Imagine a Galaxy that connects the academy to the first team, delivering impactful minutes and transfer fees when the time comes to sell. Imagine a Galaxy that harkens back to the Arena days and builds a squad that’s got depth, quality and competitiveness. Imagine a Galaxy that signs the biggest players and gets the best out of them thanks to all of the above. Imagine a Galaxy that’s a power in both MLS and Concacaf, a gigante in every way.
We might not have to imagine that Galaxy for long. Greg Vanney is the man for the job, but will he be the hire? We’re going to find out.