The Galaxy have shaken up their front office for the third time in eight months, announcing Tuesday that Will Kuntz has been elevated from senior vice president for player personnel to general manager, essentially leapfrogging coach Greg Vanney to take charge of all soccer operations, from the first team through the academy.
Last May, a month after Kuntz joined the Galaxy, the team fired longtime president Chris Klein, leaving Vanney as the top man in the front office. But in September, the team restructured its front office with a series of moves that separated the business side from the sporting side and included Tom Braun assuming a new role as chief operating officer and president of business operations.
Now comes Kuntz’s promotion, which leaves him reporting directly to Dan Beckerman, the president and chief executive of the Galaxy’s parent company AEG. In the new role, Kuntz will oversee scouting, player acquisitions, salary cap and budgets, among other things, leaving Vanney to concentrate on coaching the first team. It also makes Kuntz one of the few Black executives in MLS at the general manager level or above.
The Galaxy, who finished 13th in the 14-team Western Conference this season, have gone 35-38-29, making the playoffs once, in three seasons under Vanney, who is entering the final year of his contract.
“There is no opportunity in Major League Soccer more exciting to me than the chance to help lead this club to reclaim its place as the top club in the league,” Kuntz said in a statement. “I want to thank Greg Vanney for being my strongest advocate in bringing me into the club last winter, and I am thrilled with how our partnership has developed since I came on board.”
Kuntz said he sees his working relationship with Vanney continuing in a collaborative fashion despite the change in roles. Just before the Galaxy announced his promotion, Kuntz met face-to-face with AEG founder Phil Anschutz, whose name is on the MLS Cup trophy.
The Galaxy, five-time MLS champions, are suffering through the worst stretch in franchise history, one that has seen them miss the postseason in five of the last seven years, posting a losing record over that span. The team hasn’t played in the MLS Cup final since 2014 and hasn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs since Bruce Arena left to join the national team after the 2016 season.
Arena, who was coach and general manager, took the Galaxy to the playoffs in each of his eight full seasons, reaching the MLS Cup final four times.
Kuntz, who played forward on Williams College’s NCAA Division III national championship team, joined the Galaxy last April after helping LAFC to two Supporters’ Shields and an MLS Cup during six years as senior vice president of soccer operations. Before that, he worked in the league office and spent a decade with the New York Yankees, winning a World Series ring in 2009 while working his way up to become manager of professional scouting.
“We spent a lot of time working together and he was a valuable contributor to what we did here and I’m certainly happy to see that experience paying off for him,” John Thorrington, LAFC’S general manager and co-president said of Kuntz’s promotion with his team’s local rival. But, he added jokingly “it’s hard for me to say I wish him well.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.