The Dominic Kinnear era officially begins for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday when they travel to BMO Field to face Toronto FC.
Kinnear’s first game as the Galaxy’s head coach comes less than a week after Sigi Schmid stepped down from the top job, leaving Kinnear and his new players with little time to gel before facing Toronto. With LA winless in its last six games (0-3-3), however, the hope is that the change on the sidelines can provide a much-needed spark.
“I think everyone knows the urgency of the situation. We don’t have the coach we started the season with, we have six games left,” Kinnear said. “We still have a chance to make the playoffs, and they have to be professional about it, put any emotions aside and get back to working hard to hopefully prepare well and win the game on Saturday.”
The six-game slide has left the Galaxy (10-10-8, 38 points) outside the Western Conference playoff picture, three points behind Seattle for the final postseason berth. The situation is even more dire for Toronto FC, who are nine points behind sixth-place Montreal for the last Eastern Conference berth.
Beyond their similar positioning in the playoff races, Los Angeles and Toronto have both been plagued by defensive struggles this season. The Galaxy’s 54 goals allowed ranks tied for the second-highest total amongst all MLS teams, while Toronto FC (52) is tied for fourth in the category.
During the week off for the league’s international break, Toronto (7-14-6, 27 points) put a particular focus on correcting past defensive breakdowns. Head coach Greg Vanney noted that his club’s list of issues included individual mistakes such as “losing balls in bad places, not managing the transitions very well, not managing counter-attacks, things like that.
“I think that in order to be a better defending team, we’ve got to be better in a few different ways, not just specifically on our ability to defend as a group,” Vanney said.
Victor Vazquez trained with Toronto FC this week, though the midfielder’s ongoing recovery from a back injury may make him a game-time decision for Saturday. Injured Toronto defenders Chris Mavinga and Auro, both out with hamstring strains, also trained but aren’t expected to be available.
—Field Level Media