Klein has plans for Galaxy Academy Program

Former LA midfielder "excited" to begin next chapter of career

Chris Klein - training

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For
more than a decade, Chris Klein was one of the league’s most reliable
midfielders. Now, he's being given the opportunity to be even more influential.

Fresh
off the LA Galaxy’s 2010 roster, the recently retired Klein
stepped off the playing fields and into the club’s front office as he
was last week named Senior Director of the LA Galaxy Academy Program and Special Projects.

READ: Chris Klein named Senior Director of the LA Galaxy Academy Program and Special Projects

“To
be real honest, as I finished playing I became more and more excited
about beginning the next chapter,” Klein told MLSsoccer.com. “I was really excited to
get started
and sink my teeth into this and learn and evaluate, to see how we can
improve upon what has been a very good foundation.”

As the director of the Galaxy’s Academy Program, Klein’s
responsibility will be to develop young talent. With an immense number
of youth in the Southern
California area, Klein’s task is twofold: “How can we get players
that grow up locally in Southern California to not only want to play for
the Galaxy but to be able to play for the Galaxy,” he said.

Like
any youth development program, identifying talented youths and helping
develop the youngsters is the main focus, but Klein also wants to broaden the Galaxy's reach.

“The
idea with our academy is getting players at a younger and younger age,
to be able to develop them over a longer period of time,” he said.
“In this
country, you’ve always had an issue where you look and find the best
players and you form a team. We want to take a different approach with
the Galaxy. We want to find players early, work with them, invest in
them and show that we can develop them over many
years to prepare them to play the professional game.”

One
area in which Klein hopes to continue moving forward is the recruitment
of Hispanic players, in particular Mexican-American youth. The hope is
likely
to find a player like Omar Gonzalez, but to find him when he’s 12 or
13.

“The
Mexican-American population is very strong here and it would be foolish
for us not to look at that market,” Klein said. “It’s definitely part
of our
program now and will be part of our program going forward.”

Ultimately, the goal is to develop talented players and to have them stay locally.

“We
want to keep our players here,” Klein said. “We feel it’s the best way
for our league to grow and for the LA Galaxy to continue to be not only
the
strongest brand in MLS but year after year the best team in MLS.”

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