Forty Under 40: Chris Klein
Team: LA Galaxy
Where born: St. Louis
Education: Indiana University, business degree (marketing)
Career background: Professional soccer player
Family: Wife, Angela; son, Carson; daughters Cami and Brie
Favorite app: MLS MatchDay.
Favorite way to unwind: Working out; spending time with my wife and kids.
Guilty pleasure: Playing golf.
Worst habit: Talking on the phone while driving.
Causes supported: LA Galaxy Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Person in the industry I’d most like to meet: Roger Goodell.
I have a fear of … : Answering questions about what I’m fearful of.
Most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is … : Bungee jumping in New Zealand.
2014 will be a good year if … : The LA Galaxy wins a fifth MLS Cup.
ROBERT MORA / LA GALAXY
Four years ago, Chris Klein was in his final season as a professional soccer player. Today, he is the president of the LA Galaxy (his last team in a 13-year MLS career) and leading the club to success on and off the field.
“Chris has emerged quickly as a superior business leader because he has exceptional communication skills,” said Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG, the parent
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and project editor Mark Mensheha talk about the Forty Under 40 selection process and the class of 2014.
Klein was named president in January 2013 after spending time in the front office running the club’s player academy and serving as a vice president under former AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke. In the last two years, he has overseen an increase in the Galaxy’s season-ticket-holder list from 4,000 to more than 9,000 and an improvement in the digital space, including a new social media hub and an innovative Facebook contest to design the club’s third kit.
Klein said the key to his early success as an executive has been surrounding himself with a strong staff, just as he learned from a fast-track apprenticeship with two former colleagues.
“Tim Leiweke believed in me and gave me that chance, and Chris McGowan [current Portland Trail Blazers president and CEO and former AEG executive] and I worked side-by-side for a year and a half. That’s a great education,” Klein said. “Now I get the opportunity to work under Dan Beckerman. One of the things I’ve learned from all of them is to surround yourself with the best people.”
Klein said his immediate focus is on the Galaxy contending for another MLS title and on the next steps in player development, which include the Galaxy owning and operating its own USL Pro team at the StubHub Center, beginning this year.
“Chris has a real presence about him,” Beckerman said. “He already had strong relationships around the league from his playing days, but now he’s made countless new ones in our market. He’s a real rising star for us.”