Peter Vagenas has plenty of history with the LA Galaxy -- first as a player who helped them win six trophies in his nine seasons there, then as a rising star in the front office upon his post-retirement return to his first MLS club.
That made him a natural fit for the general manager post, Galaxy president Chris Klein said on Monday when he put Vagenas in charge of LA's search for the head coach who will fill the shoes left by Bruce Arena.
"Pete has built our academy team into one of the best in the nation," Klein said during a conference call with media to formally announce Vagenas' promotion. "For the past year and a half, Pete has also worked closely with Bruce. Pete has been part of this club since its early years and embodies everything that the Galaxy stand for."
A Southern California native, Vagenas helped the Galaxy win six trophies during a 13-year MLS career and captained them to an MLS Cup/US Open Cup domestic double in 2005. He had served as Vice President of Soccer Operations since January after joining the front office as academy director in 2013, and will continue those duties in addition to his new GM role.
Arena had manned both the general manager and head coaching positions before being hired last week for a second stint as head coach of the US national team.
But while Vagenas' first job with the club was in developing homegrown talent, Klein said his promotion -- and whatever coaching decision the club makes -- do not necessarily signal a sea change in the way the Galaxy assemble their rosters and allocate playing time.
"We believe deeply in the foundation that we're setting with our academy," Klein said. "We think we're just starting to see the fruits of that. With (USL side) Galaxy II, we've had success pushing players forward. ... That will continue. That is Pete's job, to align us from the first team through our academy and make that system work.
"It will be a combination of that and our foundation in that, but it also hasn't changed. We know players like Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane and David Beckham have become a hallmark of this club. So we have the resources, the backing to continue aggressively in this manner."
Vagenas, 38, won two MLS Cups, two Open Cups, one Supporters' Shield and the 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup in LA, where he played from 2000-08, and also lifted the 2009 Open Cup with Seattle. He also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Chivas USA before retiring after the 2012 season.
“Being from Los Angeles and having invested much of my career into the growth of the LA Galaxy, I am extremely proud to continue with this great club,” Vagenas said in a club statement announcing his promotion. “I feel that my experiences within this organization will allow me to succeed in this role as the LA Galaxy continue to grow as a premier soccer club in North America. I look forward to working with both our front office and coaching staff as we push to win championships while further aligning all of our operations within the LA Galaxy, LA Galaxy II and the LA Galaxy Academy.”