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The LA Galaxy turn to Dominic Kinnear, again

Can successful coach get another shot at permanent job?

MLS: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Galaxy have fired Guillermo Barros Schelotto and now Dominic Kinnear has mop-up duty to perform once again.

It was all the way back in 2018 that Kinnear was in a similar position. The longtime MLS head coach, who had long tenures at the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo and had won two MLS Cups, was a surprise choice to be an assistant coach on Sigi Schmid’s staff for the Galaxy in 2017, I suppose the thinking was the two highly experienced coaches could team up to deliver the next era of success to the club.

In the end, it didn’t happen and the Galaxy fired Schmid in Sept. 2018. Kinnear took over as the interim manager to see out the season, with one objective — get LA into the playoffs.

He had six games, and the record was pretty good, 3W-2L-1D. But while that stretch included a four-game unbeaten run to give the Galaxy hope they could reach the postseason, it fell apart in the end, with Kinnear’s former team, the Dynamo, embarrassing LA with a 3-2 win in LA that meant the Galaxy’s quest for the playoffs came up short.

The margin is even thinner this time, with the Galaxy still mathematically alive but sitting in last place and essentially in need of winning the final three games to have a legitimate shot of getting to the playoffs. Does the front office expect Kinnear to lead them to the playoffs? I don’t think so, although don’t be shocked if they beat Real Salt Lake on Sunday and the team starts publicly talking themselves into it.

Many will wonder if this is an audition for Kinnear to get the nod full-time moving forward for LA. It certainly could be, he stayed on the staff as the only person not hand-picked by Schelotto and maybe it was an insurance policy for the club in a situation like they now find themselves in? Hard to say on that count.

Should this be the audition for Kinnear? That’s a tougher question, to be honest. Kinnear had a lot of success in his first stint with the Earthquakes and through the MLS Cup-winning teams in Houston, no doubt. You could argue he kept some magic alive through back-to-back MLS Cup finals appearances in 2011-12, where they lost both times to the Galaxy.

But unless he’s gone through some big change of heart in his approach, I’m not sure Kinnear is the person to helm a revival of one of the biggest clubs in MLS. He lost pace as the tactical battle became far more sophisticated in the league and I think certainly in the last decade you would not associate him with a brand of “exciting” soccer.

Now, there’s something to be said of Kinnear’s pragmatism, which I believe is far more coherent than Schelotto’s, and LA’s defense needs work, something he will unquestionably put a lot of emphasis on, even in a short stretch. Also, in Houston and San Jose Kinnear always coached teams will smaller budgets than nearly any other club in the league — who’s to say he can’t be the next Bruce Arena and meld MLS knowhow with real spending power to bring the Galaxy back to prominence?

Three games isn’t much of a sample, but while Kinnear has interviewed for head coaching positions since becoming an assistant in LA, he hasn’t gotten the next job yet, and while he’s just 53, he probably recognizes he won’t get too many more opportunities.

So with the pressure off aside from reclaiming some team pride and auditioning yourself for a new job, here or elsewhere, this is a big 10 days for Dom Kinnear. Can he revive the Galaxy’s hopes? Can he show that coaching was previously the weakest link for this team? And can he show he deserves another chance as an MLS head coach? We’ll see what the next three games brings to everyone.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.