CARSON >> The Galaxy’s playoff chances are still alive thanks to Sunday’s complete effort against Real Salt Lake.
It had been a difficult week with the firing of coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto and staff, Thursday. Assistant coach Dominic Kinnear was installed as interim coach for the second time in the last three years.
Whatever Kinnear told them, it worked as the Galaxy looked balanced and compact from the outset of the game.
Giancarlo Gonzalez (18th minute) and Cristian Pavon (65th) provided the goals and the team dug in their heels on defense and recorded a hard-fought 2-1 win over RSL.
“I’m really happy for the win, really happy for the guys,” Kinnear said. It keeps the playoff hopes alive. I thought the first 45 minutes we were very good, created some very good chances, kept our shape really well, limited their looks.
“Obviously in the 2nd half we were a little bit sloppy with the ball in some bad areas, getting caught forward at times when we should be a little bit more alert to when the ball is turning, over especially on the goal for them. Then you have to give Salt Lake credit, they were throwing a lot of numbers forward. We looked a little tired, I’ll be honest with you on that, they were kind of hanging on a little on there at the end ….So first 45 (minutes), I give a complete thumbs up to everything we spoke about and the second 45, I just give them a thumbs up for absolute heart and courage, so congratulations to them.”
With MLS using points per game to decide the playoff positioning due to some teams, including the Galaxy, not being able to reach the complete 23-game regular season, the win moves the Galaxy points per game average to 1.05, leaving the club in fourth place in a four-team race for the final two remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference.
The Galaxy had the perfect first half to erase its porous performance from last Wednesday’s game against the Portland Timbers. In that game, the Galaxy allowed three goals in the first 30 minutes on its way to a 5-2 loss.
Gonzalez opened the scoring rising for a header off a free kick in the 18th minute. For the remainder of the first half, the Galaxy, from man-to-man, went about their job doing the extra work, something that has been missing for long stretches this season.
In the 51st minute, Gonzalez, again came up with a big moment, racing back to clear a shot by Corey Baird off of the line.
With the game sitting at 1-0, Pavon worked some of his magic, beating three RSL defenders and sliding a perfectly placed ball by a goalkeeper Andrew Putna for a 2-0 lead.
“Well, I think everyone is mentally disappointed at what happened with the coaching change,” Kinnear said. “I think any time that happens, you have to have a feel for the situation and your involvement in it. So like I’ve said before, Guillermo (Barros Schelotto) is I think a very good coach and I think a very good person, so any time that happens to anybody you spend a lot of time with there is a touch of sadness, especially when you have a little bit of responsibility, we all do, with what’s happened in the situation for the Galaxy this year.
“I thought the first little bit of the game, I thought we looked good for a goal we were getting to the byline a couple of times and looking menacing. So I think when that (Giancarlo Gonzalez) goal went in, it gave the guys a complete lift, you know even at halftime it gives them something to hold onto and to protect.”
The Galaxy will return to action Wednesday at home against the Seattle Sounders and then conclude the regular season Sunday in Portland against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“What we want the next three games is what we saw tonight, give our all, try to win them all because we know we have a good team with good players,” Gonzalez said. “We have to give it our best shot to prove to ourselves that we can compete with honor and pride.”
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