Galaxy drawn to Schelotto's organizational skills, savvy with young talent

CARSON, Calif. – Guillermo Barros Schelotto's experience in Major League Soccer and his coaching success in Argentina were a huge part of why the LA Galaxy targeted him to be their new head coach.

But his willingness to utilize young players made the decision all the easier.

Schelotto, 45, was officially introduced as the Galaxy's ninth head coach – and as the “perfect candidate” for the post – at a news conference at Dignity Health Sports Park Thursday afternoon.

“I know about MLS [from my playing days] in Columbus, so I know what I'm talking about when we're talking about soccer in the United States,” the Argentine coach, who led Crew SC to the 2008 MLS Cup title as a player, said in his opening remarks. “I think the league is growing, the players are getting better and better, so for me, it was very easy when I get the [offer] to come here.”

Schelotto, who spent most of his career with Boca Juniors, takes charge of a club that's failed to make the playoffs the past two seasons, missing out in 2018 after a late run left them needing just a victory in the regular-season finale at home against Houston to reach the postseason. It's a team with some big stars, none larger than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but also with some worrisome issues, especially on defense.

The failures prodded the club to seek a new general manager, Dutchman Dennis te Kloese, who also was officially introduced Thursday, in addition to finding a new on-field leader.

“I think Guillermo, first of all as a player, he's proven to be able to win – a very, very accomplished career – and as a coach, both at Lanus and in Boca, he came into both teams in situations where there was a lot of needs for organization, a lot of needs for structure, and a lot of needs for quality decisions,” te Kloese said, calling Schelotto “the perfect candidate” for the job.

From left to right: Galaxy president Chris Klein, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Dennis te Kloese | Courtesy of LA Galaxy

“I think in the position that we're at, we can, obviously, take great advantage of his knowledge and his ability to get teams and clubs organized. ... His style of play and his way of thinking about soccer is something that fits us.”

The Galaxy operate one of MLS's more celebrated academies but have seen relatively few players go on to the first team and only one, Gyasi Zardes, become an important contributor. Schelotto's ability to infuse youth into his teams was a big part of what te Kloese and club president Chris Klein most admired about him.

“He's proven not to be afraid to put young players on the field,” te Kloese said. “He comes from a culture similar as where I come from, where you play when you're good enough, and not based on age or anything else. And I think with the knowledge of MLS, being a very high-profile player here for several years, I think that gives something extra and will make the adaptation a little more easy.”