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May 31, 2007

Yallop not worried about job status
By Luis Bueno and Andrea Canales

Frank Yallop has a 10-10-7 all-time mark as Galaxy coach.
Frank Yallop has a 10-10-7 all-time mark as Galaxy coach.
Photo by Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CARSON, Calif. – As much as the Galaxy did not want to repeat last season’s horrid start, history is all but repeating itself – albeit with a new cast of characters.

Now that star forward Landon Donovan embarks on his seemingly annual trip away from the Green-and-Gold, the American international does not feel this year’s script will follow last year’s tale at all.

“I would be extremely disappointed and shocked if something happened to Frank,” Donovan said.

When Donovan left the Galaxy to join the United States national team ahead of the 2006 World Cup, the squad had a 2-4-1 record and was led by Steve Sampson. When he returned in late June, Donovan found himself following orders from Frank Yallop.

And while Yallop inherited a club whose playoff chances were moribund at best, Yallop resuscitated the Galaxy and almost guided the club into the playoffs.

But now, the Galaxy is almost in a worse position than a year ago. If the Galaxy does not beat D.C. United on Saturday, the Galaxy will have fewer points when Donovan leaves for the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup than they did in 2006.

“I don’t think you can blame Frank for anything that’s been going on,” Donovan said. “I’m not putting it past anybody, but Frank’s not to blame for what we’ve been doing on the field.”

Sampson’s Galaxy squad was 2-4-1 when Donovan departed in 2006 and slumped to 2-8-1 before he was finally sacked. Yallop’s Galaxy team is 1-3-2 and faces a resurgent D.C. United squad on Saturday.

For his part, Yallop said he would focus on what was in his control and not fret over the rest.

“I’m not worried at all, because you’ve got to do your job and stay positive,” Yallop said. “Results have obviously not gone for us, but we’re six games in. Until we are judged closer to what our starting lineup it’s difficult. We’ve just got to keep soldiering on.”

Against D.C. United, the Galaxy will be severely limited, even with Donovan on the field.

“We’ve got thirteen healthy guys for the weekend,” Yallop said. “We’re going to try to get a result in that game.”

Among the missing players will be Canadian national team players Kevin Harmse and Ante Jazic as well as injured right back Chris Albright.

Regardless of who is there and who is gone, Donovan said players needed to make plays to turn the season around as the responsibility ultimately falls on the players’ shoulders.

“I’ve had a lot of chances to score. Our defenders have had chances to clear balls that end up going into our net. That’s not something Frank does,” Donovan said. “He’s putting the best team he can on the field. Unfortunately, we don’t have everybody we want right now and that makes it difficult. That being said, we’re in these games and we have chances to win or at least get points out of these games and we’re not doing it. That’s on us, not on him.”

When Sampson was fired a year ago, the Galaxy was all but lifeless. The club suffered through a 525-minute scoreless streak, which was snapped in what turned out to be Sampson’s final game, a 2-1 loss at Houston on June 3.

Sampson mostly had what Yallop has not – a full squad at his disposal. The Galaxy had some nicks and bruises early on a year ago but nothing quite like Yallop has faced this season. Forwards Alan Gordon and Gavin Glinton have not seen any action this season. Defender Troy Roberts has also been sidelined the entire season while regulars such as Peter Vagenas and Quavas Kirk have missed time due to injury.

The worst injury, though, was Albright’s, who tore his hamstring and will be sidelined for 4-6 months. A likely candidate to replace him would be Ian Russell, who joined the club in the preseason, except Russell has also been slowed by injuries.

So while Yallop feels that injuries have slowed the team, ultimately it’s his job and that of his players to get results.

“It’s frustrating, but I hate the club to be judged on what’s going on at the moment. I’d love to be able to explain everything, but it doesn’t matter. The crowd comes to watch the Galaxy and they want three points. They don’t want to hear about injuries or guys not here, because it’s irrelevant, really,” Yallop said. “I’d like to think the fans are going to give us a bit of time and stick with us and that they realize what is going on and they support us in that. Many a club has done it. DC, a couple of years ago, when through a rough patch while getting players together, but then they won it. I feel that we have good players in place, we just don’t have them on the field yet.”

In the end, if Yallop is judged it should be after having had a full squad at his disposal, Donovan said.

“At a minimum, he needs a chance to get all his players here and show what he can do. He also needs a chance to get the players he wants to get, via trade or otherwise. If he has that chance, we’re going to succeed,” Donovan said. “He’s good enough and he’s been around long enough and been successful enough in this league that he know what’s going on. As long as he has that opportunity to get the guys.”

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