LOS ANGELES (AP) — LA Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid stepped down on Monday with just six games remaining in the Major League Soccer (MLS) season, abruptly ending his second tenure in charge of the winningest franchise in league history.
Schmid, the winningest coach in MLS history, walked away just 42 regular-season games into his second stint with his hometown club.
“After careful consideration, I have decided to step away from coaching at this time, but would like to remain in the game,” Schmid said in a statement released by the team. “With six games remaining as the club fights for a playoff spot, I understand the timing of this decision is unfortunate. However, I believe this group can come together and fight for a spot this season under Dom’s guidance.”
Galaxy President Chris Klein said Schmid’s departure was a joint decision after extensive discussions about the direction of a once-dominant franchise enduring its second straight miserable season. The Galaxy (10-10-8) are mired in eighth place in the Western Conference standings despite a high-priced roster headlined by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“It was a conversation that we had,” Klein said. “I don’t know if it’s that he simply just stepped away. I’d rather not get into specifics, but it was a conversation that Sigi had with us, and collectively we decided this was best for him and us right now.”
Dominic Kinnear will be the Galaxy’s interim head coach for the rest of the year.
The Galaxy are struggling despite a wealth of talent including Ibrahimovic, Giovani Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini. They are winless in their last six games, yielding 18 goals and slipping out of playoff position.
And though they went unbeaten in three meetings with expansion Los Angeles FC, the Galaxy also are eight points behind their upstart local rivals in the West standings.
“We’re not satisfied or happy with where the team is at right now,” Klein said. “Our expectations are much higher than that. We know that responsibility extends beyond just Sigi.”
Klein confirmed Ibrahimovic had nothing to do with the coaching change. Ibrahimovic has excelled under Schmid, scoring a whopping 16 goals in 21 games.
“Zlatan, since he has come here, I understand his reputation and his personality, but he has been beyond professional,” Klein said. “He would never go there, even if he wanted to.”
Kinnear is the Galaxy’s third coach in 22 months since the departure of Bruce Arena, who left to take over the US national team. Arena had been the Galaxy’s Head Coach and General Manager for eight years, winning three MLS Cup championships.
Klein didn’t deny Arena and Kinnear both could be candidates for the full-time job, but the president also plans to look beyond the usual suspects for the next architect of the Galaxy’s future.
“A change at this point in the season is never ideal,” Klein said. “That is a concern, but Dominic knows this team well, knows the group and what’s needed.”
The 65-year-old Schmid steps away with 266 wins in the regular season and the post-season combined. He won MLS Cup titles with the Galaxy in 2002 and the Columbus Crew in 2008.