A Chivas USA Academy coach garners plaudits around the United States for the group of players and playing style he's assembled, and as they perform well in national tournaments, his stock rises as well as those of his players.
And then he moves to the LA Galaxy Academy, along with the best of those players.
It's a familiar pattern, one that happened in 2013 with Mike Munoz, who moved the bulk of his then U-16 side to the Galaxy, and in the subsequent time, Bradford Jamieson IV, Ryo Fujii and Adonis Amaya, all who once played for CUSA's Academy, have been signed to professional deals by the Galaxy or their USL team LA Galaxy II.
Now, it's happening all over again, as Gary Kleiban announced on his website on Friday that his brother Brian, the main architect of the lame duck Chivas USA Academy, will be moving to the LA Galaxy Academy at the close of the current season, after CUSA's Academy has closed down. Presumably, most of his top players will make the move to the Galaxy Academy as well.
On one hand, I understand the circumstances for both coaches moving. Munoz moved when Chivas USA's overall organization was at its most unstable, when it seemed like any cockamamie thing could happen, and so he got to stay at home, continue to work for an MLS organization, and certainly didn't have to deal with the massive instability present in his old position.
Likewise, Kleiban was effectively going to be a free agent come the summer, as Chivas USA's Academy is closing, and he needs a job. Since he's one of the most well-respected coaches around, he didn't have to wait long to get a new job, and he doesn't have to move. Also, there's no chance the Galaxy go out of business. Win-win for him.
And for the kids, they work hard, they play hard, I can't blame them for switching sides. It's a business, as everyone says. They need to do what's best for them in maximizing their chances of getting a college scholarship or signing a professional deal, and I wish them the best, especially since their academy is closing up shop.
I've written quite a bit already about how expansion MLS side LAFC needs to be proactive in establishing an academy. I lobbied for the organization to hire Kleiban and hit the ground running as soon as feasibly possible, although they have publicly indicated they are in no hurry to get things going because they say they don't want to do it wrong.
Now, LAFC are a good six or seven years, at least, behind the Galaxy in terms of their player development infrastructure. Not only not hiring Kleiban, but having the Galaxy hire him and bring his players with him puts them so far behind the eight ball it's breathtaking.
So, I may write about youth soccer and even former academy players from time to time, but until there's any real progress on the LAFC academy front, which doesn't seem likely for some time, I'm planning on taking a break in writing about MLS academy news, results and the like. I've written about CUSA's Academy for four years, and seen just two Homegrown players signed to the first team, with only one ever getting any competitive minutes. I've reported on three players who are pros for the Galaxy now, and several more players who have signed pro deals in Mexico, Norway and Italy. I know that not every promising player will come through the ranks of my team to become a pro, and players switch sides all the time.
But I'm tired of following the progress of players who never end up on my team. Best of luck to you, kids, but I'm done hunting down scores and keeping track of roster changes for awhile.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!