Los Angeles Galaxy
LA Galaxy are a professional soccer team and compete in the American Major League Soccer (MLS) First Division in the Western Conference. The team are based in Los Angeles, California and were one of the founding members of the MLS when the League began in 1995. Since this date the Galaxy have established themselves as one of the most successful MLS teams.
First, a few tidbits about the Los Angeles Galaxy. The team get their name ‘Galaxy’ from the abundance of Hollywood movie stars that live locally in Los Angeles. Philip Anschutz of AEG currently owns the club franchise. The club share their home stadium, The Home Depot Center, with Chivas USA.
LA Galaxy became the most famous soccer club in the USA when they signed David Beckham in 2007 and they matched the superstar on-field personnel with the high-profile coaching appointment of Ruud Gullit, who took over as Head Coach in November 2007, replacing Frank Yallop.
LA have even established links with an Australian A-League team. Gold Coast Galaxy will be recognised as the Galaxy’s official sister-team from the start of the 2008-2009 season.
For more information on the Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer team visit the Official Website.
The LA team have had a number of fierce rivalries since the MLS began in 1996. Galaxy’s first main rival was the San Jose Earthquakes and matches between the two teams were known as the ‘California Clasico’. The Earthquakes re-located to Texas in 2005, becoming the Houston Dynamo and consequently the rivalry between the two has cooled. However the San Jose Earthquakes will return for the 2008 season along with a revival of the ‘California Clasico’.
When Chivas USA moved into the Home Depot Center, a fierce rivalry was born and is played out in the MLS’s only recognised derby, the Honda SuperClassico. The Galaxy have had the greater success, with a perfect record against Chivas in 2006 and three wins out of four in 2007. The rivalry reached its climax on the 23rd August 2007 when tempers boiled over on the pitch. Two players were sent off after an incident that involved David Beckham.
‘Cozmo’ the Extraterrestrial Mascot
The LA Galaxy team mascot was introduced in 2003 after Cozmo, according to legend, was beamed down to the Home Depot Center from outer space. The frog-like creature provides entertainment on match days, as well as teaching children some basic football skills.
LA Galaxy experienced their most successful period during the opening decade of the MLS. Between 1996 and 2005, the Galaxy picked up six domestic cup trophies. The first of these, the Supporters’ Shield, was won in 1998 and they picked it up again in 2002. Los Angeles also took part in the first MLS Cup final in 1996, which they lost narrowly to DC United, 3-2 after extra-time.
Infuriatingly, the MLS Cup proved illusive as the team lost out in the finals of 1999 and 2001 before finally winning the trophy in 2002, taking down the New England Revolution 1-0 after extra-time. In this period, LA also added the US Open Cup to their trophy cabinet in both 2001 and 2005.
Disappointment in 2006
Perhaps the most impressive record set by the Galaxy in their first decade as a soccer team is their ten successive MLS playoff appearances. However, this ended in 2006 when the team finished fifth in the Western Conference and missed out.
This was seen as a major failure for the club who had just enjoyed a decade of success. Head Coach Steve Sampson was one casualty on the way to this disappointment, as he was replaced by Frank Yallop midway through the season.
Yallop failed to save the team in the latter stages of the campaign as their only hope of success in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final was ended by Chicago Fire who took the trophy with a 3-1 win over the Galaxy and crowned a miserable campaign.
Disappointment was followed by tragedy that year, as general manager Doug Hamilton suffered a fatal heart attack on board an aeroplane carrying the team back to the USA after a trip to Costa Rica for a CONCACAF Cup fixture. He was just 43 years old.
The David Beckham Era
In response to the disappointing 2006 season, the Galaxy shocked the football world by signing the English superstar on a 5-year deal worth $250 million from Real Madrid in 2007. Beckham made his debut in a pre season friendly fixture against Chelsea. The arrival of the former England captain attracted a record crowd of nearly 30,000 at the Home Depot Center, who saw Beckham make a 12-minute cameo performance in the 1-0 loss. The match attracted mass media coverage and the live action on ESPN set an all time record for MLS TV ratings.
However, Beckham’s arrival did not have the positive effect that Galaxy fans were hoping for. During an injury-plagued season, the Englishman could only sit and watch his team-mates struggle through the 2007 season. Despite a late revival, which saw the Galaxy record five consecutive wins, the team missed out on a play-off place for the second time in their history.
Amidst much speculation about his future, Head Coach Frank Yallop resigned on November 4th 2007. Just five days later Los Angeles appointed Dutchman Ruud Gullit as Yallop’s replacement with newly retired Galaxy player Cobi Jones as his assistant. With this team in charge and Beckham reaching full fitness, the fans live in hope for a return to their glorious first decade in MLS.
American international Cobi Jones spent eleven years with the Galaxy between 1996 and 2007. During this long spell with the club, Jones made over 305 appearances, scoring 70 goals. As a testament to his ability, the creative midfielder was named United States Soccer Player of the Year in 2002 and ,upon his retirement in 2007, LA Galaxy made MLS history by retiring his number at the club (13).
After a loan spell with MLS rivals San Jose Earthquakes, Donovan joined LA in 2005 from German side Bayer Leverkusen. In just 75 appearances for the club he has netted 36 goals and was named in the MLS All-time Best XI after his first season.
When Beckham joined the Galaxy in 2007 he became the first MLS player to be signed under the Designated Player Rule. His arrival sparked record official shirt sales, with over 250,000 before the player made his first appearance for the club. Beckham’s made five league appearances in his first season with LA after a succession of injury problems, but his class is there for all to see when he does take to the field.
- CONCACAF Champions’ Cup – Winners (2000)
- MLS Cup Champions – Winners (2002, 2005)
- MLS Supporters’ Shield – Winners (1998, 2002)
- US Open Cup – Winners (2001, 2005)
Most Valuable Players
- 2007 – Chris Klein
- 2006 – Landon Donovan
- 2005 – Herculez Gomez
- 2004 – Kevin Hartman
- 2003 – Kevin Hartman
- 2002 – Carlos Ruiz
- 2001 – Ezra Hendrickson
- 2000 – Simon Elliott
- 1999 – Kevin Hartman
- 1998 – Cobi Jones
- 1997 – Mauricio Cienfuegos
- 1996 – Eduardo Hurtado
Golden Boot Winners
- 2007 – Landon Donovan (8)
- 2006 – Landon Donovan (12)
- 2005 – Landon Donovan (12)
- 2004 – Carlos Ruiz (11)
- 2003 – Carlos Ruiz (15)
- 2002 – Carlos Ruiz (24)
- 2001 – Luis Hernnandez (8)
- 2000 – Cobi Jones (7)
- 1999 – Cobi Jones (8)
- 1998 – Cobi Jones (19)
- 1997 – Welton (11)
- 1996 – Eduardo Hurtado (21)