On Monday, the LA Galaxy announced head coach Sigi Schmid had stepped away from the team effective immediately, with Dominic Kinnear taking over on an interim basis. With just six games left in the season, the news was entirely surprising and left more questions than answers.
Did Schmid step down? Was he fired? Why now? What's next for the Galaxy?
"After discussion with Sigi, we made the collective decision and Sigi decided to step down," LA Galaxy president Chris Klein said on a media call Monday. "We all feel that this is in the best interest in Sigi and the club for both the short and long-term.
"It was a conversation that we had," Klein said. "I don't know if it's that he just stepped away -- I'd rather not get into specifics."
The specifics had nothing to do with a rift in personnel decisions according to Klein, who insists that Schmid had carte blanche with the roster this year.
"Sigi had full authority to make roster decisions with this team with this year, that was clear," Klein said. "There's always discussions that happen, but we had a great working relationship with Sigi."
Schmid departs the Galaxy with the team in 8th place in the Western Conference, facing a difficult, but not impossible, climb to get over the playoff line. Klein is optimistic about Kinnear's ability to steer the team to a strong finish and is hopeful for an immediate jolt of energy a coaching change can give a squad.
"We are certainly looking forward to the last six games of our season," Klein said. "We're confident in Dominic Kinnear as our interim manager and feel that he has the tools to fight for a playoff spot. We understand the uphill battle that we have, but as a club we're going to keep fighting."
The Galaxy face Toronto FC (A), Seattle Sounders (H), Vancouver Whitecaps (H), Sporting Kansas City (A), Minnesota United (A) and Houston Dynamo (H) to close out the season. They will need big performances from their key players should they have any hope of crashing the playoffs, especially striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Klein added that Ibrahimovic has been the epitome of professionalism since he arrived in LA and had no impact on the coaching change.
"Zlatan since he has come, I understand his reputation and his personality, but he has been beyond professional and he would never go there even if he wanted to," Klein insisted.
As for Schmid's full-time successor, Klein hasn't ruled out Kinnear nor former Galaxy boss Bruce Arena.
"We're looking at everything, we'll evaluate [Arena], we haven't started our search yet," Klein said. "We will come up with a profile we're looking for and we'll target those candidates."