Galaxy cannot afford a loss in a place where they never win
The Galaxy traveled to Kansas City this week looking for both a head coach and a playoff berth. There’s a chance they might find both in Dominic Kinnear, the man who has been leading the team on an interim basis since Sigi Schmid’s firing last month.
Consecutive 3-0 victories under Kinnear — the team’s most one-sided back-to-back shutouts in more than four years — have breathed new life into the Galaxy’s fading postseason hopes. A win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday could lift them over Real Salt Lake and into possession of the Western Conference’s sixth and final playoff spot with two games left in the season.
Galaxy president Chris Klein said that would also lift Kinnear deeper into contention to fill the team’s vacant managerial post.
“The answer’s yeah, he’ll be considered,” he said Friday.
Klein said little more about his search for a permanent coach.
“I don’t want to comment on progress. Just that it’s encouraging and we continue to go through it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kinnear, the third-winningest coach in MLS history, insists he’s focused on the job he has and not the one Klein is trying to fill.
“I’m happy to coach the team on Saturday,” he said.
That certainly has been enough to keep him busy — especially against second-place Kansas City (15-8-7). The Galaxy (12-11-8) haven’t beaten that team on the road since 2007, when the franchise was called the Wizards and played in Missouri not Kansas.
The Galaxy have no room for error since anything less than a win would leave them at least a point out of a playoff spot and with no control over their own destiny. Plus they go into Saturday’s game likely missing midfielders Gio dos Santos and Chris Pontius, forward Bradford Jamieson and defender Michael Ciani to injury. Fullback Rolf Feltscher, recently called up to the Venezuelan national team, also will sit out because of yellow-card accumulation.
“Every game is a must-win,” said forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has four goals and an assist in his last three games. “We need every point in every game we play.”
As important as Ibrahimovic has been to the playoff push, the key to the team’s resurgence under Kinnear has been Jonathan dos Santos, whose passing and possession in the midfield have settled the Galaxy both offensively and defensively.
“Jonathan is getting a lot of the ball and he doesn’t really waste the possession. If he does, he’s one of the first guys to be responsible to get the ball back,” Kinnear said after last week’s win over Vancouver, which gave the team its first two-game winning streak since mid-July.
Three more wins and there’s a good possibility he gets the team into the playoffs, which would make it difficult for the Galaxy not to take the interim title away from Kinnear, a two-time MLS Cup-winning coach, and give him the manager’s job full time.
Whether that would happen Klein wouldn’t say. He was a bit more direct in discussing the future of Ibrahimovic, the league’s second-leading scorer with 20 goals in 24 games. Ibrahimovic has a year left on his contract, although two weeks ago he said his return was something he would be discussing with the club after the season, adding in an interview with Swedish TV that he would “not close the doors” on a return to boyhood club Malmo. A winter loan to Italy’s AC Milan has also been rumored.
“We’re certainly focused on this,” Klein said of Ibrahimovic’s return. “We’re hopeful and confident that he’ll be back.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @kbaxter11
All about the beautiful game
Go inside the L.A. pro soccer scene and beyond in Kevin Baxter's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.