LA Galaxy goals for rest of the season under interim coach Dominic Kinnear? Make playoffs, don't finish in last

Dom Kinnear, as LA Galaxy assistant, looks on

The LA Galaxy’s chances of reaching the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs are slim. But the club, which has endured a tumultuous regular season, including the departure of head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto on Thursday, are still mathematically alive.

And that’s Dominic Kinnear’s first goal when his second stint as an interim manager of the Galaxy begins Sunday (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info) against Real Salt Lake at Dignity Health Sports Park.

To achieve that, LA will have to win their remaining three game and get some help along the way.

Kinnear’s second goal, is a bit more immediate, and more tangible — get the Galaxy out of the Western Conference basement where they are tied with the  already eliminated Houston Dynamo at 0.95 points per game.

“The first thing in my mind when I look at the standings is the LA Galaxy should not be in last place, first and foremost,” he said in a video conference call with reporters Saturday. “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 and there’s a possibility we can jump some teams. Not finishing in last place for me should be a part of our ambitions.”

Of course, a coaching change and short turnaround after a thorough 5-2 defeat to the Portland Timbers isn’t the best paved road toward that path. But Kinnear said he’ll know soon after kickoff against a similarly desperate RSL side how in line the players are with his goals.

Anything but a Galaxy win will eliminate them from playoff contention.

“This game up against Salt Lake is the most important game of the season, the most important minutes of the season, the most important preparation,” Kinnear said. “We’re going to now where the guys’ heads are at when they step on the field the first five minutes if our intentions are to win this game.”

Kinnear said the days after Barros Schelotto’s departure have been “sad” and he publicly thanked the now former Galaxy coach for bringing him on his staff. In a meeting with the team, Kinnear said Barros Schelotto was responsible for everyone in that room being together — from the coaches to the players to the fitness staff. And everyone in that room is responsible for Barros Schelotto no longer being there.

That emotion, though, quickly had to turn to preparation and a hope that three points could bring about much needed “positive energy.”

“We are chasing this playoff spot so we understand where we are in the standings,” Kinnear said. “I think it’s just important that we step on the field with one attitude in mind and that’s to try and win the game at all costs and hopefully we walk off the field with that ambition met. Nothing more than that.”

When they step on the field Sunday night, they’ll do so without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who is listed as questionable with a hamstring on the Galaxy’s official injury report. But Kinnear said the forward hasn’t participated in training the last couple of days “so I would say his availability for tomorrow is ‘not available.’”

Chicharito took to Instagram, promising to do better for his new club. Kinnear, who said he’s not much of a social media guy, wasn’t aware of the post, but said the word “disappointing” is a fair assessment of Mexico's all-time leading scorer’s first season.

“When Javier first came to the Galaxy, I think expectation and excitement and anticipation was very high, very exciting,” Kinnear said. “I think his preseason started off very well. I was very excited for him knowing that we have a guy who could score a lot of goals given the right service at the right moments. And then, unfortunately, he’s run into a lot of injury problems this year.

“The intention with bringing Javier here was one of we’re getting a good player to score goals,” Kinnear added. "But when that player is not on the field for whatever reason, injury, lack of form, we have to come back to it and look at what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”