Dominic Kinnear - LA Galaxy - hand over heart
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Warshaw: How Dom Kinnear and the LA Galaxy can save their season

Six games for the LA Galaxy to avoid total disaster.

The team with…

…might miss the playoffs.

And there’s already been one major shakeup: the Galaxy announced on Monday that head coach Sigi Schmid is stepping down. Dom Kinnear (pictured above) is taking over on an interim basis. 

The following words were written last week to run ahead of the Galaxy’s upcoming game, as the DEFCON conditions around the Galaxy camp shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. I didn’t expect Sigi to leave the team, but the stakes were high. I’ve replaced “Sigi Schmid” with “Dom Kinnear”, and added a few words where necessary.

The LA Galaxy are three (to six, depending on how Portland and Seattle do with their games in hand) points away from the playoff line. It’s been a disastrous month for the Galaxy, who have gone 0-3-3 since the start of August. They’ve conceded 18 goals over those six games. The most successful club in league history has six games left to salvage their season. 

By my count, looking at Real Salt Lake, Portland, and Seattle’s schedules, the Galaxy need to win at least four of their remaining six games.

The most compelling decisions occur when people have their backs against the wall. How will Dom Kinnear, two-time MLS Cup champion, try to turn this ship around?

Here’s what I would be thinking if I were in charge of the Galaxy right now:

There’s a possibility that the Galaxy regress to the mean defensively and stop conceding an average of three goals per game. But the Galaxy’s defensive mean still appears to be shipping at least two per game, as they’ve only conceded fewer than two goals in three of their last 13 matches. It seems like a long shot to assume the defense will get better all of a sudden. We could write a separate story about why the Galaxy have been so bad defensively (and will absolutely do that post-mortem at some point), but the Galaxy have to look forward right now. Six games left!

What would you do with your reputation on the line in this situation? 

I generally believe that cohesive tactics trump talented individuals, but how much can a team do at this stage? Dom Kinnear has never been a heavy-handed tactician. I don’t expect that to change right now, especially since he has five days before a huge game. I’d probably ride my best horses, put my faith in my best players and smoosh them all onto the field at once and hope it works.

(Kinnear has traditionally played a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. I had originally listed this lineup in a 4-3-3, but moved Gio to the left and Ola Kamara to a natural striker position when Kinnear got appointed.)

I mean, for whatever you think of the Galaxy, that’s a pretty stacked lineup. It’s unclear if those pieces fit together – Sebastian Lletget to right back is certainly a gamble (although Paul Arriola’s performance at right back for D.C. United last week makes me feel better about it). But, remember… we’re going for it! If you’re going to give up four you might as well try to score six! It’s either Lletget to right back or someone else to the bench. Every other more conservative plan has proven flawed, too.

The Galaxy have had real obstacles come their way this year – incorporating a new superstar midseason, international absences, injuries. It’s tough to pinpoint one thing or person to blame.

I have no idea what Kinnear will do. But I hope he tries the gung-ho lineup at some point.

If you’re going to go down, go down swinging, right?