Yallop has no regrets over leaving the Galaxy

April 2, 2008
By Andrew Rogers
(Archive)

Frank Yallop's successful first spell with the San Jose Earthquakes (winning MLS championships in 2001 and 2003) led L.A. Galaxy executives to believe he was the man to revive their misfiring team after the Galaxy missed the playoffs for the first time in team history in 2006.

Icon SMIFrank Yallop is happy with his decision to return to San Jose.

However, following a 2007 season that was equally disappointing despite the signing of David Beckham, Yallop resigned to take up the head coaching position at the new San Jose Earthquakes.

Five months on, the former Premier League player is counting down the hours to San Jose's first game as a new franchise against the Galaxy in the California Clasico, "I can't wait, I feel like a fan, I just want to get down there and start the season," said Yallop.

"There has always been a terrific rivalry that goes way back, L.A. and San Jose were neck and neck during those years, we were both at the top of the Western Conference, when the teams step back on the field the intensity will be right back up there."

It might be suggested that his eagerness is peppered with the disappointment of last year, but Yallop sees a bigger picture when revealing frustration while at L.A., and concern at the expectation placed on the shoulders of David Beckham.

"It was a frustrating time for me, looking back now to say, 'I didn't enjoy it' would be a lie. It was a learning experience, and I felt I did the best with what was given to me, there were times when I couldn't get the right team out when I wanted, and the side was never settled."

The arrival of Beckham was part of the problem but Yallop is more concerned with the midfielder's future, than any problems created by his transfer, "Each [MLS] side has 4-5 really good players," he added.

"But finances make it much tougher when recruiting the rest of the roster, they simply aren't there to command the world's best talent. David's performances have to be seen in this context, he cannot be expected to carry the whole team, and it only gets harder once injuries kick in during the season."

MLS Primetime Thursday
April 3
New England at Chicago
8 p.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN360)

San Jose at Los Angeles
10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN360)

Despite sympathizing with his former player, Yallop admits Beckham's star power fundamentally changed the franchise's inner workings and how he managed the team, he added:

"[His arrival] brought a whole new aspect to the club because he is such a big star, he commands so much attention all of the time. It changes the way you think about things as well as the way you train, play your games and travel. He couldn't train with us, and when he played he was not anywhere near 100 percent fit."

Last season's playing record of 9-14-7 tells its own story on Galaxy's recent failures. Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein feels Yallop did an good job in trying circumstances, but wasn't surprised to see him resign.

"Towards the end I wasn't surprised to see him go, it was a perfect storm with a lot of injuries and just the way things went, Frank had success in San Jose and I could see it start to wear on him, you could see it in his face," said Klein. "The moment he made the decision you could see the color come back in his face ... the fact is he really didn't have that much time to make his mark on the team."

It can be argued L.A should have worked harder to keep Yallop given his MLS Cup successes in 2001 and 2003, but Yallop states he would have left the club irrespective of Galaxy's fortunes, as the opportunity to return to North California was too good to turn down.

"Once I was aware of the opportunity I wanted to speak to John Boyle, we hit it off straight away, it's been suggested that David's arrival at the club might have influenced my decision but he was completely irrelevant, my concerns were me, my family and my coaching, it's a great opportunity," said Yallop. "Three months ago we had no players, now we have a really good core and are only missing a striker."

Klein is wary about facing his former manager's side, after a heavy defeat at Colorado he knows the side has to pick themselves u,p but accepts that will not be an easy task against their derby rivals.

"There won't be any mixed emotions we want to beat Frank's team. It will be a tough game, its San Jose's first game back, they will have a lot of energy," said Klein. "Obviously Frank is coming back and his sides will always be tough to beat, but after the weekend we have to concentrate on ourselves."

Yallop is confident of restoring San Jose to the former glories of MLS Cup winners, but inaugural seasons are notoriously tough for expansion franchises, making Thursday's fixture against an ailing local rival and former employer even more important.

"Hopefully we can go to L.A. and do the business. The playoffs are definitely the target but I'm not going to say were are going to make, or not going to make. It's up to me and the players to get going and see how the season works out," said Yallop. "If we don't get too many injuries I think we can be in contention, but lets see what happens you just never know with football."

Andrew Rogers is a freelance contributor to ESPNSoccernet. He can be reached at andrewrogers@optonline.net.