The Galaxy (10-10-8) are in eighth place in the Western Conference, three points behind streaking Seattle in sixth and five back of Real Salt Lake and Portland. They're winless in six games since July and have lost their last three on the road, conceding 11 goals in the last two.
It's led to Sigi Schmid's departure as head coach, and interim boss Dominic Kinnear makes his debut in charge badly needing all three points.
“Listen, we have nothing to lose,” Zlatan Ibrahimovic said. “We have six games left and we will go for it. We will do everything to try to make it, and yes, we are dependent on the other teams [in front of us]. Hopefully, they don't do so good… For me, must-win, no problem. I have no problem with that. So let's win.
“I'll do my best. We'll do our best. I like the games when there's a lot of things on the table that matter, so this is what we train for, this is what we live for. These moments. We don't want an easy situation, we want it difficult, because when we succeed, the feeling of success is even better.”
The Galaxy, mathematically, could win the West, and they'd have been on top had they not dropped seven points after holding leads in the first three games of the current streak. They've surrendered the advantage in four of the six games and been soundly defeated in the other two.
Defending MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield champions Toronto (7-14-6) are in worse shape. The Reds are ninth in the East, far closer to the basement (three points) than sixth-place Montreal (nine points). They've got seven games to play, three teams to leapfrog, and have won just once in six games heading into Saturday night (7:30 pm ET | TV & Streaming Info).
“Everyone knows the story of their season so far,” Kinnear said. “You go back to the last game against LAFC [a 4-2 defeat], and the scoreline, I don't think, really paints the true picture of the game. Toronto had some good moments. I think they were unfortunate to be down at halftime... and it's a tough game, a tough place to play.”
“It would be nice to have a full deck of cards,” Kinnear said. “I'm sure Sigi would say the same thing. It didn't happen very much for him this year.”
Injuries, many of them to the most important players, certainly have impacted the Galaxy's form this season, which has been marked by woefully inconsistent defending and difficulties in finding the best system to aid in that while best benefiting a strong attacking group.
They were streaking when July ended, with a nine-game unbeaten streak built greatly on Ibrahimovic's precision in front of goal -- he has 16 goals and eight assists in 21 games but just one goal since a July 29 hat trick to beat Orlando City. His next goal will be his 500th for club and country.
The Galaxy aren't happy, of course, with how things have been going.
“[This club was] five-time champions before I came, they've won [MLS Cup] the most times, and I’ve come in, I've won nothing,” captain Ashley Cole said. “I've been disappointed with that, and I think the way this season is going, it's been up and down.
“But if we win, imagine, five games, we'll be near the top. It's not impossible. And it starts on Saturday.”