Interim LA Galaxy head coach Dominic Kinnear has only one goal regarding Sunday’s meeting with Real Salt Lake at Dignity Health Sports Park (7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet).
He could care less about putting himself in a better position to be considered for the full-time job that was left vacated following the dismissal of Guillermo Barros Schelotto and his assistant coaches. Kinnear, the lone holdover from Schelotto’s staff, simply wants to win, something the Western Conference cellar-dwelling Galaxy (5-11-3) shockingly have found to be difficult this season.
“We just want to win, give the guys some positive energy,” he told reporters in a Zoom call Saturday. “A win always does that. We are chasing this (MLS Cup) playoff spot. We understand where we are in the standings.
“It’s important that we step on the field with one attitude in mind, and that’s try to win the game at all costs. And hopefully we walk off the field with that ambition met.”
Kinnear, asked if he had a sense of where the season went wrong, called it a “crazy year.”
“We did have that one good run (a four-game winning streak) coming out of Orlando, and I thought we were really building on something,” he said. “We took a bit of a fall here. I will say … and these are no excuses … but we’ve rarely had our three DP’s on the field at the same time.” Four times, to be exact. “I think if that were to be more possible for more than the time we had I think it would be a better reflection of how the team can play and what our record would be.
“That for me is always a problem, when you don’t have your money players on the field and healthy when they’re on the field. We’ve given up a lot of goals in a lot of ways, and I think sometimes our attention to detail or our attention to the danger when the other team has the ball needs to be sharper. Guillermo was pounding this home all the time. It wasn’t something that was swept under the rug. It was something that was talked about constantly.
“The defensive record is not wonderful” — the Galaxy are third-worst in goals allowed behind only San Jose and Vancouver — “and I think when you look around the league the teams that are on the top of the table have good defensive records. Now I’m not saying it’s just the goalkeeper and the back four and some others, it’s an absolute team effort.
“And I think that’s something that the players can hold their hand up and say they can be better at.”
Kinnear, who will be assisted by Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski on the sideline Sunday, will be taking over the Galaxy on an interim basis for the second time. He also filled that role when Sigi Schmid was let go late in the 2018 season, but the Galaxy fell just short of the playoffs.
Postseason play surprisingly remains a possibility for the Galaxy, who are in a 1-8-1 nosedive. It’s come down to this: if the Galaxy lose to Real Salt Lake they’re out. If they tie Real Salt Lake and Colorado beats Seattle, they’re also out. If the Galaxy tie Real Salt Lake and Vancouver defeats Portland, their playoffs chances are history as well.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who has missed the last two matches because of a hamstring injury, has missed training the last two days and will not be available Sunday, Kinnear announced.
“Sunday’s going to tell a big story,” he said. “The first thing in my mind when I look at the standings is LA Galaxy should not be in last place. First and foremost. The first ambition of mine was obviously the playoffs is a goal at the end of the season, but the goal going into this first game was we want to get the win. Not finishing in last place for me should be part of our ambitions.
“Yeah, we have to have other teams kind of fall by the wayside and we have to go on a really good run here. Also we can only play one game at a time, as we all know. And this game against Salt Lake is the most important game of the season. It’s the most important minutes of the season, it’s the most important preparation.
“We’re going to know where the guys’ heads are at when they step on the field the first five minutes if our intentions are to win this game,” he went on. “We have to make sure our first challenge, our first pass is crisp, is meaningful and there’s not only intention behind it, there’s also ambition. These first five, 10 minutes, hopefully you’re going to see a very aggressive team and one that shows Salt Lake that it’s going to be a difficult night.”