Sigi Schmid had more to lose than prove in ill-fated second stint with LA Galaxy

A certain infamous politician recently made a point of reminding his supporters that they were about to get tired of winning. It was hard not to think of that sentiment on hearing the news that Sigi Schmid, the winningest coach in MLS history, who had succeeded the second-most winningest coach in MLS, Bruce Arena, was stepping down as LA Galaxy coach, to be replaced by the third-most winningest coach, Dom Kinnear.

And looking at that list, it’s perhaps fair to ask the question, “What have you won for me lately?”

The Galaxy are a team that has gone from unquestioned dominance in MLS to an indeterminate position in their own city in the space of a few short years. When LAFC appeared on the scene, the Galaxy were quick to remind their would-be rivals of their peerless achievements in the opening two decades of MLS history, but a legacy of winning can rapidly diminish in worth when it appears consigned to the past.

And since Arena’s departure, the Galaxy have at times more closely resembled the lopsided team he inherited than the organization he shaped. First Curt Onalfo, who was dismissed in July 2017, and now Schmid have struggled. With due respect to Kinnear — a fine coach at Houston — there’s little in recent history to suggest he’s about to arrest the trend.

Nobody doubts the pedigree of Schmid, Arena and Kinnear, or their outsize influence on the generation of American coaches that followed them. In advance of Schmid and Arena meeting in a July 2016 game between their then-teams the Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy, a coaching-family-tree graphic even did the rounds to underline that influence.

At the time, this writer wrote a piece for this site noting that the diagram “represents a fascinating kind of core sample of a cultural moment that might be passing,” yet nobody was anticipating just how fast that moment would indeed pass — or how far away the moment when Arena and Schmid were the unquestioned dominant figures in domestic soccer would look from our current vantage point.

Schmid was ousted from Seattle that summer, and Arena would go on to a misadventure with the national team that fall, while the club team he left behind threatened to slide from benchmark to irrelevance.