During his two years as captain of the Galaxy, Dan Calichman has never been hesitant to express an opinion, so it's not surprising that he has some definite thoughts about his coach's future.
Should Octavio Zambrano lose the interim tag and be named the Galaxy's full-time coach now that he has taken the team into the playoffs, starting Sunday against the Dallas Burn at the Rose Bowl?
"I can't speak on behalf of all the players," Calichman said, "but certainly, in my opinion, I think the players look at him as our coach. I don't think we look at him as our interim coach.
"Without a doubt, he should be retained as the head coach. He's done a wonderful job. Whether it's him or it's the players, certainly we did all of this under him. So how can you not reward him? It wouldn't be right.
"And then you see how well we did in CONCACAF. I mean, if you add it up, we've won a lot of games under Octavio. It would be ridiculous not to retain him."
The numbers, in fact, are lopsidedly in Zambrano's favor. Since taking over for Lothar Osiander 12 games into the Major League Soccer season when the team was 3-9, Zambrano has gone 13-7.
That .650 winning percentage is third-best among the league's 10 coaches and ranks him only fractionally behind the .656 records of Bruce Arena, who coached defending MLS champion Washington D.C. United to a 21-11 mark, and Kansas City Coach Ron Newman, whose Wizards also went 21-11.
When Zambrano first was named as Osiander's successor, it was with the understanding that a final decision on his future would be made after the season. The widespread belief was that the Galaxy wanted to bring in a "name" coach, possibly from Mexico.
But Zambrano has made that all but impossible.
In addition to taking the Galaxy all the way to the final of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, defeating some top Mexican teams along the way, he turned the Galaxy's MLS season completely around.
The team won 10 of its final 15 games, including the last six, to move from last place in the Western Conference to second, behind Kansas City.
And it was not simply the won-lost record that improved. The team's play has, at times, been far superior in quality to that of any other MLS team. The Galaxy has been inconsistent, yes, but it has also played skillful, fast-moving and entertaining soccer.
All of which caught the attention of the MLS expansion franchises in Chicago and Miami/Fort Lauderdale and of league and federation officials in Zambrano's native Ecuador. The Galaxy's interim coach has made no secret of one day hoping to lead Ecuador's national team into the World Cup.
Faced with the possibility of losing a coach with that much appeal, the Galaxy has had second thoughts about looking elsewhere for 1998.
"The Galaxy has made me an offer, it's just that we haven't really had the time to iron out the details," Zambrano said. "My intention right now is to remain here [in Los Angeles].
"We are close enough that I feel comfortable that we will come to some kind of agreement."
Taking the international games into account, Zambrano's record as coach of the Galaxy is 18-8, but it is the style of play that he has been able to introduce, more than the results, that pleases him.
"I'm happy with the things that I've been able to do," he said. "Some of them have worked. I'm always eager to exercise my ideas of how the game ought to be played and some of the concepts that I've thought about for a long, long time I've been able to put into place."
As a former player, Zambrano, 39, has been involved with the sport in one form or another all his life. Even now, when he is not on the field with his players, he is in front of the TV, viewing games from around the world.
"I watch so much soccer, you would not believe it," he said. "I am obsessed with the game, really. That's just the way it is. I love it. I enjoy it. If I could watch soccer games all day, that would be a pleasure for me."