From Wolves to la Galaxy: Medical Expert Reveals the Unique Challenges of the MLS

Phil Hayward - Injury Management Challenges in the MLS

Wolverhampton and Los Angeles are separated by 2000 miles of ocean, several mountain ranges and nine time zones. The differences between the Premier League and MLS are, according to Phil Hayward, just as stark.

Hayward headed up the medical department at Wolves for eight years before he left to join LA Galaxy in early 2020. His new role as director of performance and sport science saw him pull the strings behind the scenes in LA, with an emphasis on maximising sporting performance as well as injury prevention.

In exclusive conversation with Premier Injuries, Hayward explained the unique challenges of the MLS, from extreme weather to jet lag.

He also revealed how his directorial role differed from his more hands-on experience at Wolves.

“It was quite a different role in that it was about overseeing the entire performance department and leading the whole programme.

“It was different to what I’d experience at Wolves because I’d always worked with a head of sport science or a fitness coach who was driving those aspects of the programme.

“More recently, Antonio Diaz, who worked with Nuno closely, he really dictated what we did from a strength and conditioning perspective. At Galaxy, I was over that part of the programme too.

“It was a new thing for me and I was looking forward to embarking on to really test myself and really be able to put my stamp on things. I could use a lot of the things I’d seen work well at Wolves and transfer those over there.

“So, the role was very different. There was no clinical work really at all. It was very much an oversight role. There were lots of discussions around clinical approaches but not so much in terms of day-to-day contact with the players. It was a lot more higher-level planning in the MLS.

“There are a lot of difficult challenges that you wouldn’t necessarily appreciate from afar. For example, logistics around traveling. You’ve got four time zones from east to west.

“You’ve got big fluctuations in terms of temperature as well. You could be playing in Toronto where it’s -5° after leaving LA the previous day where it was 25°.

“It’s about trying to find different solutions to things that you wouldn’t necessarily experience here. There were some really unique challenges that I enjoyed getting my teeth into.

“It was different to what I experienced during my time at Wolves.“

Hayward left Galaxy in December 2021 to focus on his freelance work as a high-performance physiotherapist and performance consultant.

To see him pull back the curtain on life as a medical professional in the elite game, watch the full 45-minute exclusive interview with Premier Injuries below.