LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena fined for criticizing MLS structure

LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena received a substantial fine for his extensive criticism of the league's single-entity structure.

Kirby Lee/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena received a $20,000 fine for criticizing the league’s single-entity structure last month, MLS commissioner Don Garber revealed on Thursday.

In those remarks to the Washington Post, Arena blamed the league for scuppering the Galaxy’s move for Sacha Kljestan, labeled league executives "children" and questioned the transparency of the league.

Garber told earlier this week that he planned to dock Arena a substantial amount for his comments. He revealed the magnitude of the fine after explaining the rationale behind the disciplinary measures.

"All of our employees — whether they are league executives or club executives, even going so far as to include our owners — are bound by an agreement that we will not criticize the system that our ownership is fully committed to," Garber told reporters after unveiling the league’s new logo. "As I’ve said in the article and I’ve seen lot of the buzz around it, I have enormous respect for Bruce Arena. I think he should be a real icon for our sport. It pains me to have to fine him that he obviously feels strongly about, but which he is required by league rules to keep to himself. It’s been something I would have preferred not to do."

The pointed comments left Garber with little choice in the matter, though Arena’s frustrations with the collapse of the Kljestan move — a chase that included the trade of defender Kofi Opare to D.C. United to clear roster space – and the pliable operating procedures are understandable. Garber said the structure of the reported loan deal for Kljestan did not meet league criteria and insisted the deal never reached the league for approval.

Garber also indicated he thought the comparisons between the mooted Kljestan agreement and Toronto FC’s loan move for Júlio César fell wide of the mark. The Brazilian goalkeeper joined TFC on a temporary move to obtain first-team matches prior to the World Cup. TFC picked up a small portion of the former QPR man’s wages in exchange for his services.

"They were very different deals," Garber said. "The terms of the deal were different. We had certain rights in the Júlio César deal that we didn’t have in this deal. It was a deal that did not come to the league for approval. If it had, we would not have approved it."

The exact details of the failed Kljestan deal remain murky — Garber did not expound upon them only to say they were not acceptable to the league office — yet its impact will prove expensive for Arena. The veteran boss told LA Galaxy Insider he stands by his actions and the way the Galaxy conducts its business.

"I’ve got no thoughts on what he has to say," Arena said after Galaxy training on Thursday. "I stand on everything that we did as completely accurate and completely ethical. It was the way that you do things –the right way. We did everything the right way and we’ll leave it at that. We stand by everything that we did and I’m very proud of our organization with the way that we go about doing our business."

Galaxy officials declined to comment, per a club spokesperson.