CARSON, Calif. — Dennis te Kloese emphasized youth development and building a reasonable pathway from the academy to the first team in his first remarks following the LA Galaxy's announcement Tuesday morning that the Dutchman is the club's new general manager.
Te Kloese, who has been intimately involved in developing young players during stints with Chivas USA and in Mexico, said during a teleconference with media that “formalizing our academy, professionalizing our academy, [to] carry ourselves maybe sometimes in a different way” was critical to the Galaxy's mission.
There are more pressing needs — a decision needs to be made on who will coach LA in 2019 and on building a roster that can compete for MLS Cup title other honors — but better integrating the club's youth system with its first team and Galaxy II, the USL-based reserve side, is pivotal to the club's evolution and prospects for success.
“I hope to get a clear idea [of the landscape] and evaluate as quickly as possible ...,” te Kloese said. “We need a clear idea of where we want to go. We have to have a clear identity in how we develop our players, and I do think that is a big challenge, because the Galaxy has always and will always be known as a place for high-profile players which make a direct impact and carry the team to big success.
“But I think there is also a need for a little bit of a more local identity, close to those players [in the academy that] the Galaxy has invested highly in in the last few years.”
Te Kloese said his greatest priorities were “first of all assess and evaluate where we're at” and hire a technical staff. He was seen at a Los Angeles Lakers game on Monday night with Caleb Porter and it was reported on Tuesday that the Galaxy are "deep in negotiations" former Portland Timbers head coach. The Dutchan did express his great “deep respect” for Dominic Kinnear, who as interim head coach took the Galaxy to the verge of the playoffs this season.
“I think you can see that he's been a big part of the turnaround,” te Kloese said. “He's a man that has pedigree, that has quality, someone that has also been a proven factor in this league.”
He said he would take charge in talks to bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to LA next year and noted that the Swedish superstar “has a positive feeling for being here” and that “his wife and two sons are much more settled in.”
Ibrahimovic would like to become a Designated Player, but all three Galaxy slots are filled, and there is little wiggle room under the salary cap with so much space committed to existing contracts. There has been speculation that they might release Giovani dos Santos — either by buying out his contract or finding a workable transfer situation — but te Kloese wouldn't get specific on the roster, noting that the incoming technical staff would have a say in that.
“I can tell you that I've known [Giovani] for many years. I know him, I know his family,” te Kloese said. “I think my relationship with [dos Santos and his brother, Galaxy midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos] have nothing to do with my responsibility with the Galaxy. I will always make the best decision for the team, for the organization with Giovani or any other player.
“There's a big opportunity for us to grow, and Giovani, I must say, is a talented player, but the last two seasons have been difficult for him. ... We'll discuss [his situation], see where it goes.”