Landon Donovan didn't mince any words in the FOX broadcast booth when analyzing the situation of his former club, the LA Galaxy, during their nationally televised Week 29 match at Sporting Kansas City. The former Galaxy legend was critical of what he felt was the LA Galaxy's lack of vision during a 2017 campaign which ultimately saw them officially eliminated from playoff contention just a few days later.
"It doesn’t look like they have a real plan for what they want to do or who they want to be," Donovan said on FOX. "When you build a team, you build down the middle. Any coach, general manager, sporting director will tell you that. You need to have solid pieces."
In the three months between June 24 and September 24 the Galaxy dropped 12 of their 15 league matches and the losing continued after veteran head coach Sigi Schmid took over for the fired Curt Onalfo.
Those weren't the expected results when LA made a series of splashy moves in 2017 for Joao Pedro, Romain Alessandrini, Jermaine Jones and Jonathan dos Santos. But Donovan felt those moves didn't come as part of a broader blueprint for the club's future. He was particularly critical of Joao Pedro's assimilation – or lack thereof – to MLS.
"We’re not to the point in Major League Soccer where you can miss on a player like this," Donovan said. "And I’m not saying he’s a miss yet. He’s still going to take some time to understand. But when you’re spending a million-and-a-half dollars on a player, you need someone who is absolutely contributing and you can count on. And he just hasn’t quite been that guy yet."
Donovan contrasted the Galaxy's situation to that of Sporting KC, who were once again in the Western Conference playoff chase in 2017 and also won their third U.S. Open Cup title under long-time head coach Peter Vermes.
"In speaking to him this week, I come away very impressed that he [Vermes] is involved in every situation that happens at this club," Donovan said. "He knows exactly what is happening at all times, from their first-team players down to the academy, he’s got his fingerprint on everything. ... And that kind of clarity is something, candidly, that the Galaxy are missing right now."
The Galaxy are already making plans to improve at least one area of the field in the offseason. Goalkeepers Clement Diop, Jon Kempin and Brian Rowe have all alternated as starters with mixed results and Schmid has taken notice.
"When we asked Sigi Schmid, how do you start to rebuild this," said Donovan, "his first answer was, ‘I think we need to upgrade at the goalkeeper position.’ He’s not happy with the goalkeeping position as it lies now."