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April 18, 2007

Galaxy low in standings
By Andrea Canales, Associate Editor

Galaxy coach Frank Yallop is being counted on to lead the team to success this season.
Galaxy coach Frank Yallop is being counted on to lead the team to success this season.
Linda Cuttone, SportsVue Images
CARSON, Calif. - Los Angeles Galaxy coach Frank Yallop is typically cool and collected, traits that served him well in his days as a defender.

Yallop played in England for many years with Ipswich Town before making the transcontinental jump to America to play with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. In his coaching days, his personal understanding of how players are motivated spurred great success with his club team, the San Jose Earthquakes.

Yallop was widely considered one of the top coaches in America when he left the squad in 2003 to take on the challenge of guiding Canada’s national team.

Yallop’s tenure there was mixed, with some good results (a draw versus the U.S.) combined with the disappointment of failing to reach the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Most believed that Yallop’s main complaint with the Canadian federation – that not enough resources were allotted the senior team for either more camps or more games together – was a valid point that handicapped the coach from really fulfilling the team’s true potential.

When he arrived to coach the Galaxy in the midst of the 2006 season, Yallop led the team to one of the top records in Major League Soccer’s final half of the season.

However, the Galaxy’s record in the first half of the season was so poor that the team still failed to make the playoffs.

At first glance, to be the coach at the helm of the first Galaxy team to ever miss the postseason, especially alongside the records of other coaches who were dismissed (Steve Sampson, 2005 MLS and U.S. Open Cup titles, Sigi Schmid (2000 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, 2001 US Open Cup, 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 Supporter’s Shield), Octavio Zambrano (1998 Supporter’s Shield, highest-scoring team in MLS regular-season history) would seem to put Yallop at risk.

Yet given the low points the Galaxy had when he started his job, Yallop was instead given free rein to make changes in the Galaxy lineup.

Though the season is only two games long, Yallop’s roster has produced a single draw against Houston on the road, losing at home in Carson to FC Dallas for the first time in franchise history.

Los Angeles general manager Alexi Lalas indicated that Yallop was well aware that better was expected of the team that will welcome David Beckham to the league later this season.

“He’d be the first person to tell you that he understands the expectations and he understands the job of head coach of the Galaxy is very different than any other team in the league in terms of the pressure and in terms of the high standards that we’ve set here,” said Lalas.

Lalas has fired two coaches in his three stints as general manager. He dismissed Bob Bradley from New York while GM there, and he sent off Sampson from the Galaxy.

Only Dominic Kinnear, while Lalas was the general manager in San Jose (before the team was dissolved and the players relocated) escaped such a fate.

In Los Angeles, Lalas expressed confidence in Yallop’s ability.

“I fully expect him to live up to and surpass that (high) standard,” Lalas asserted. “I’m completely positive and happy with the job that he’s done so far. Would we have liked to have won our home opener? Without a doubt. It was disappointing, but that’s not something that I see creating a pattern.”

It is plainly not a start that Yallop would prefer.

With players such as Landon Donovan, Chris Albright, Quavas Kirk and Nathan Sturgis likely to leave for international competitions this summer, leaving the Galaxy short-handed, a good beginning was crucial to relieving the pressure on the club, the players, and the coach.

“He knows what the gig is,” Lalas pointed out of Yallop dealing with that pressure. “He knows that this isn’t San Jose and this isn’t Canada.”
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