Los Angeles Galaxy President and General Manager Doug Hamilton today named Steve Sampson head coach of the L.A. Galaxy, effective immediately. Sampson, 47, becomes the fourth coach in club history, succeeding former coaches Sigi Schmid (1999-2004), Octavio Zambrano (1997-1999) and Lothar Osiander (1996-1997).
"We are pleased to announce Steve Sampson as the next coach of the Galaxy," said Hamilton. "We strongly believe that he will be able to guide us into the next era of our growth. Steve's experience and knowledge of the game will shape our team for the future and will provide us with an opportunity to win championships. We are confident in Steve's ability and are happy he has accepted the challenge."
Sampson will retain Galaxy assistant coach Martin Vasquez while adding coach Ignacio Hernandez, who recently worked under his direction for almost a year in a similar position with Costa Rica and will replace former Galaxy coach Zak Abdel. A native of Veracruz, Mexico, the 42-year-old Hernandez enjoyed a 13-year playing career as a 'keeper in Mexico's first and second divisions, including stints with Los Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz, Atlante FC and CD Toluca. Hernandez's coaching experience also includes two seasons with the Orange County Zodiac (A-League) and several years with the U.S. Olympic Development Program - under Sampson's direction.
"I'm extremely honored and privileged to be a part of what I consider the best club team in America and working for Doug Hamilton, Tim Leiweke, and the AEG family," said Sampson. "I look to build upon what has already been established. It is quite obvious that the standards for this team are extremely high and I, along with my staff and the players, have to find a way to achieve what the Galaxy and AEG are committed to and that is to win championships. I'm ready for the challenge of winning an MLS championship."
Most recently, Sampson led the national team of Costa Rica for nearly two years. He was named technical director of the men's national team and coordinator of all national teams by the Federación Costarricense de Fútbol on November 11, 2002 to replace Alexandre Guimaraes, who departed after leading Costa Rica to the second FIFA World Cup finals in their history in Korea/Japan.
During his tenure, Sampson successfully guided Costa Rica to an 11-7-4 record (31 GF and 22 GA), including ten full international friendlies, five UNCAF contests, five Gold Cup matches and two qualifiers to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. In addition, he helped Costa Rica youth teams qualify to the FIFA World Championship and the 2004 Athens Olympics in their respective age groups.
In one of his first major accomplishments in charge of the Costa Rican side, Sampson steered the country to a remarkable 1st place finish in UNCAF Copa de Naciones, posting a 4-0-1 record against their fellow Central American national teams. His first win with Costa Rica came in a 1-0 victory over El Salvador on Feb. 12, 2003 during opening play in the UNCAF tournament. The first-place finish earned the ticos an automatic entry into the championship for national teams in the region, the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Sampson, 47, directed the ticos to fourth place in 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup play. After dropping their opening match in Group D to Canada 1-0, Costa Rica recovered to finish atop their group with a 3-0 win over Cuba. They proceeded to defeat El Salvador by a 5-2 margin in the quarterfinals and fell to rivals Mexico by a 2-0 score line in the semifinals before dropping a 3-2 decision to the USA in the third place match.
In his last act as head coach, Sampson effectively led the ticos to a berth in Group B in the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying, alongside Canada Guatemala and Honduras. Overall, he has suffered only two World Cup qualifying losses in 18 matches combined with both Costa Rica and the USA.
Prior to joining Costa Rica, Sampson constructed a myriad of successes as the Head Coach of the U.S. National Team from 1995-1998. As the U.S. National Team head coach, Sampson compiled an impressive 26-22-14 (.532) overall record, ranking second only to present manager Bruce Arena. He became the first American-born coach to qualify the side into a World Cup Finals, earning the USA a berth to the FIFA World Cup France 1998. In France, two narrow one-goal losses and a setback at the hands of three-time champion Germany prevented the U.S. from advancing to the second round.
Before reaching France '98, Sampson had navigated the U.S. team through a difficult CONCACAF region and led the squad to a 3-1-6 record in the final round of World Cup qualifying, including victories over Canada (3-0), Costa Rica (1-0) and El Salvador. The team's most impressive result during that run was a shocking 0-0 tie against Mexico in Mexico City, while playing a man down for the last 58 minutes of the match. During the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, Sampson and the U.S. marched to a remarkable 4-1-1 record. The team swept through the round defeating Guatemala, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago, which the U.S. swept with 2-0 and 1-0 wins.
Some of the most memorable moments in U.S Soccer history were orchestrated by Sampson as the U.S. captured an impressive 1-0 victory over defending World Cup champions Brazil in the semifinals of the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup. On July 14, 1995 the U.S. also handed two-time World Cup champion Argentina a 3-0 loss during the Copa America tournament in Uruguay.
A long-time member of the U.S. National Team coaches pool, Sampson was promoted to interim head coach on April 14, 1995 after the departure of Bora Milutinovic. As interim head coach, he guided the USA to a 1995 U.S. Cup title and to the semifinals of the Copa America tournament.
In 1989, Sampson led Santa Clara University to an undefeated 20-0-3 record and a share of the school's only NCAA Division I National Championship with a U.S. National Team head coach Bruce Arena led University of Virginia. Overall, he amassed a 64-19-19 mark (.721 winning percentage) in five seasons at the helm of the Broncos.
A graduate of San Jose State University (SJSU), he earned a master's degree in education from Stanford University in 1982. Sampson, who minored in Spanish while at SJSU, speaks fluent Spanish. The veteran coach, his wife Sheri, and their three children, Brandon, Emily, and Trevor, reside in Agoura Hills California.
Tickets are still available to the Los Angeles Galaxy's Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night festivities on August 21 at The Home Depot Center. In addition to the evening of entertainment, including a 7:00 pm match between the Galaxy and the Chicago Fire, the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a Galaxy seat cushion, courtesy of SBC. For more information or to order tickets, please call the Galaxy ticket office toll-free at 1-877-3GALAXY.