Arena, Nowak linked to vacant Galaxy coach gig

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Just a day after Los Angeles Galaxy's brass cleaned house, the rumors are already flying about where the disarrayed club will turn next.

Days like Monday, when the Galaxy axed president Alexi Lalas and saw head coach Ruud Gullit "resign," are tailor-made for bloggers and rumor-mongers, each throwing their two cents into the conversation.

On Tuesday, the U.S. soccer world turned to the next order of business: Who will take over as boss of the Galaxy? The hottest prospect in the rumor mill, and confirmed by sources, is former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena, who was let go by the New York Red Bulls in the winter. He was in the Big Apple for just over one season before the club's then-GM, Marc de Grandpre, brought the ax down on Arena's neck. Supposedly, de Grandpre was disappointed that the team didn't win the MLS Cup.

Sources say that former U.S. international John Harkes, currently lead broadcaster for ESPN, would join Arena at the Home Depot Center. In this scenario, Harkes would be Arena's top assistant to begin with, though the idea is that Harkes would take over as head coach later and Arena would remain in some sort of technical director or management position.

Another rumor, reported on the Soccer by Ives blog, claims that U.S. Olympic team coach Peter Nowak is the front-runner for the L.A. job. sources could neither confirm nor deny this.

Nowak has MLS experience and success both as a player and a coach. The former Poland international won the 1998 MLS Cup while captaining the Chicago Fire, then won the trophy again as manager of D.C. United in 2004. His Olympic team is currently in first place in Group B of the Olympic tournament, with a chance to advance to the quarterfinals if it gets at least a draw with Nigeria on Wednesday.

For now, L.A. legend Cobi Jones, who retired last year and worked as Gullit's top assistant this season, has been named as interim coach, but he does not have the experience or wherewithal to stay on as permanantly. Unless something changes very quickly, he will lead the club when it takes on Chivas USA in the SuperClasico on Thursday night.

Most observers believe the club needs to bring in a coach with good knowledge of MLS, who understands the complex inner workings of the league, such as the salary cap, the allocation system, etc. This comprises a short list, including Arena, Nowak, Houston Dynamo assistant Jon Spencer, New England assistant Paul Mariner, and U.S. under-20 coach Thomas Rongen.

However, Los Angeles has never done what "most observers" think they should do. There's every chance Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, which owns the Galaxy, could go with another big name foreign coach.

Plus, there is David Beckham to take into account. Beckham's personal manager, Terry Byrne, a consultant with the team, was the man charged with hiring Gullit in the first place, and Beckham and his people will certainly have a say in who succeeds the disgraced Dutchman.