The LA Galaxy have turned to Dominic Kinnear to turn their season around and sneak into the postseason. Such hopes for the remainder of the year depend on the new formation that Kinnear employs.
Some of that downward spiral can be fixed by Kinnear fitting the right personnel to the right basic soccer formation. And that formation won’t be the 3-5-2 used by former LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid until the problems cost him his job on September 10.
The team went 0-3-3 in their last six games using the 3-5-2 formation.
Before that ill-fated run, the Galaxy had used the defensive scheme of the 4-3-3. They kept it up for a 2-0-2 run ending July 8.
That makes it sound like it’s time for Kinnear to prepare his players for the 4-3-3 once more and make a suicide run for the playoffs. As grim as a mid-season coaching team appears, LA Galaxy are only two spots below the playoff line in the MLS Western Conference and, with a rare good run, could yet sneak into the postseason.
But it’s unlikely Kinnear would coach them up in the 4-3-3. After all, Schmid saw something happening with it and his team. He abandoned it for a reason, even if the new scheme guided him out of a job.
Kinnear’s success with the Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquake kept his teams in variations of the 4-4-2. It was usually the midfield-diamond version –- sometimes even a double-diamond.
The Galaxy had a brief live experiment with the 4-4-2 double-diamond ending April 22. They went one win-one loss in that lightning run. Then the team returned to the 4-3-3.
With possession, the 4-3-3 can allow up to seven players to join in the attack. It’s recognized as the most dangerous of modern formations. Give it time, play it well with the right personnel and it’ll almost always break down defenses with the right quality in the right areas.
But formations must fit personnel. Right now, LA Galaxy personnel, beginning with interim head coach Kinnear, has a history of success — even winning it all in MLS — with a 4-4-2 diamond-midfield at the core of the team, not the more modern 4-3-3.
After coaching up midfielders in the passing success necessary for an effective use of this formation, Kinnear and LA Galaxy can make this formation work. Without the passing success, the Galaxy would be vulnerable to counter-attacks. But with accurate passing and extended periods of possession, LA Galaxy can effectively arm two talented strikers of their choosing. They keep gaps between central midfield and their attack very small.
LA Galaxy are so close to the playoffs they can smell it. They look immediately to their interim head coach Dominic Kinnear for direction now to turn around a downward spiral that threatened to disastrously end their season.
In fact, the team now has nothing to lose and everything to gain. And what they gain this season depends on how quickly Kinnear can fit personnel to the best formation he can coach. That could well be the 4-4-2 diamond-midfield.