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SOCCER

Schmid Might Be Out of a Job

November 15, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Sigi Schmid's job as coach of the Galaxy hung in the balance Friday, despite the new contract he was given in March after leading the team to its first Major League Soccer championship last season.

Schmid, 50, met with his players Thursday and told them he was unsure whether he would be retained as coach in the wake of the Galaxy's first-round elimination in this season's playoffs.

The decision will be made by Doug Hamilton, the team's vice president and general manager, possibly as early as Monday.

Hamilton's own position apparently is secure. The Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Galaxy, said Friday that he had done "a fine job," but AEG declined to speculate on Schmid's future.

"It's not for me to comment on Sigi," said Kevin Payne, the head of soccer for AEG, "but I can tell you that Doug is not out.

"I don't think any decisions of any sort have been made. I think Doug is going through kind of a review of everything right now, an assessment of where the organization is and what are the best ways for it to improve on the performance this year."

Schmid has an overall record of 85-54-29 since becoming the Galaxy's coach on April 22, 1999. Under his guidance, the team won the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2000, the U.S. Open Cup in 2001, and the MLS title last year.

It has also kept intact its record of never having failed to qualify for the MLS playoffs.

But Sunday's 5-2 playoff loss on the road to the San Jose Earthquakes in a game in which the Galaxy squandered a 4-0 aggregate lead in the two-game series after winning the first game, 2-0, might have cost Schmid his job.

It was by far the worst road loss in a travel-intensive and injury-plagued season in which the Galaxy went 0-10-6 away from its Home Depot Center stadium in Carson.

"I think it will be resolved early next week," Payne said of Schmid's future as coach.

If the decision is made not to renew Schmid's year-to-year contract, the Galaxy has four potential successors in mind. In no particular order, they are:

* Steve Sampson, the former U.S. national team coach who currently is the coach of Costa Rica.

* Leonardo Cuellar, the Los Angeles-based former Mexico World Cup player who currently is coach of Mexico's women's national team.

* Victor Manuel Aguado, Argentine coach of Morelia in the Mexican league.

* Alexandre Guimaraes, the Brazilian coach who led Costa Rica at the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.

Schmid said Friday that he had met with Tim Leiweke, AEG's president, on Wednesday but had not heard anything since.

"He figures L.A.'s a different market," Schmid said. "It's really his choice. I know I can coach this team. I feel I'm the best coach for this team. It all depends how he wants to position it in the market.

"Obviously, this wasn't the best of seasons for us.... I know what the reasons are and I know how to fix the problems that exist. Hopefully, I'll get the opportunity to do that."

If not, it is possible that AEG could offer Schmid a different job.

San Jose Coach Frank Yallop is widely expected to become Canada's national coach. Similarly, D.C. United Coach Ray Hudson has talked about returning to Florida.

Both teams are AEG-owned, and Schmid could be a candidate for either position.

"It's something I'd have to look at," Schmid said. "I've been very fortunate that I've been able to live in L.A. all my life....

"I feel the right opportunity for me is coaching L.A. If the Galaxy wants to accomplish what it wants to accomplish, I think I'm the right guy for it. I've always felt that way."

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