Galaxy's Jonathan dos Santos may get starting nod in his home debut

Jonathan dos Santos is just 26 minutes into his MLS career. But in that short time he said he’s already experienced both surprise and comfort in his new league.

“I was really surprised by the ambience in the stadium,” Dos Santos said of his brief appearance off the bench for the Galaxy in last Sunday’s loss in Portland. “I’m very comfortable with everything. With the team, my teammates, the coach, with the fans.

“I think I have chemistry with everyone.”

That theory will be tested again Saturday when Dos Santos makes his home debut for the Galaxy against New York City FC (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes). Although the midfielder has had just six training sessions with the team since transferring from Spanish club Villarreal last month, Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid said he’s pleased with Dos Santos’ fitness and may start him Saturday.

“We’ve just got to make sure we don’t overload him and have him play too much, too early,” Schmid said. “He’s obviously going to be a key part of this team for this year and years to come.”

But if the Galaxy have any hope of salvaging what’s left of this year, they’ll have to throw caution aside in a clash of teams heading in opposite directions.

The Galaxy entered the weekend closer to the Western Conference cellar than they are to a playoff berth while New York City has the third-best record in the league. Plus, NYCFC has lost just twice since May while the Galaxy, winless in their last seven games, have won only once in the last 10 weeks.

And the Galaxy’s last win at home came in the first week in April; they’ve gone 0-4-4 at the StubHub Center since then.

“What this team needs is just confidence,” said Schmid, who will be seeking his first victory in his third game since replacing Curt Onalfo, who was fired last month. “We need to get a win. It doesn’t matter what you do at training. The only way you ultimately get that confidence is to go out and get a win.”

Also in need of confidence is forward Gyasi Zardes, who hasn’t scored — and has taken just seven shots on target — in 14 games. Zardes, who scored 16 times in 2014, thought he had one last week but the goal was taken off the board after a video review showed he handled the ball before it went into the net.

“He just needs to get a goal,” Schmid said. “He needs the goalkeeper to clear it off his rear end and it goes into the goal, and all of a sudden he’s happy and he’ll know that this huge block of cement is off his back.

“To a certain extent it becomes a psychological game.”

Dos Santos could help there since Schmid envisions the midfielder, who completed more than 88% of his passes last week, providing a link between the back line and Galaxy attackers such as Zardes and Romain Alessandrini, who is expected back after missing the Portland game because of left-knee irritation.

However, Schmid will again be without defender Jelle Van Damme, the team captain, who is suspended for the match. His absence could be important since NYCFC’s David Villa, the reigning MVP, entered Saturday leading the league with 17 goals.

The Galaxy, meanwhile, have allowed 18 goals in their winless streak.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
59°