If the Galaxy are going to make a playoff run this season, they are going to have to win at home.
“The only way you ultimately get that confidence is to go out and get a win,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s just a matter of reestablishing that fortress at home.”
They better get started on that soon, because their former fortress proved to be a prison once again Saturday, when second-half goals from Jonathan Lewis and David Villa lifted New York City FC to a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 25,667.
That extended the Galaxy’s winless streak to eight games, leaving them nine points out of a playoff berth with 11 games to play. And much of the blame for that lies with their dismal record at home, where they have won just once in 12 tries.
Yet that number alone doesn’t begin to explain the depth of their struggles at the StubHub Center. The Galaxy have led at home just once all season — for 75 minutes in their lone win.
That came in April.
And if the Galaxy don’t win at least one of their final five home games, they’ll break the MLS record for fewest home wins in a season set 16 years ago by the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny.
The Mutiny won just two home games in 2001, after which they were immediately expelled from the league.
The Galaxy (6-12-5) can take some consolation from their latest loss, though, since they played better in the first 50 minutes then they have over any similar stretch all season.
“We deserved to come out of that game with more,” Schmid said. “I thought we dominated the game. The team played really well.
“We did not deserve to lose 2-0.”
They threatened repeatedly in a scoreless first half, their most dangerous chance coming in the 40th minute when New York keeper Sean Johnson deflected defender Pele van Anholt’s 20-yard blast over the crossbar with a leaping one-handed save, one of five he had on the night.
They had another great chance in the opening seconds of the second half when midfielder Ema Boateng — who played an inspired game — weaved through five defenders before putting a left-footed try on goal that Johnson turned away with a sliding stop. The Galaxy also got a stout effort from midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, who went the distance in his first MLS start.
Brother Giovani didn’t play, however, after tweaking a hamstring in training last week. And the Galaxy missed him with forward Gyasi Zardes, invisible for much of the night, managing just one late shot on goal.
“We need more from him,” Schmid. “It wasn’t enough.”
Asked what was lacking from the team’s efforts to finish their chances, Schmid was even more blunt.
“A center forward,” he said. “Somebody who’s very comfortable finishing goals. Gyasi’s in a rut right now.”
The swarming Galaxy did a better job defending, harassing New York all over the field and preventing the league’s second-most-potent attack from establishing any rhythm.
But Lewis broke the spell in the 54th minute, dribbling deep in the Galaxy end, avoiding a poor challenge from Jermaine Jones, then pulling up to take a long right-footed shot that beat keeper Brian Rowe, struck the bottom of the crossbar and dropped over the goal line.
“It’s a horrible goal to take,” Schmid said. “Those are the kind of goals that deflate a team. Now you take the air of the balloon and it becomes harder.”
Ashley Cole nearly got that one back for the Galaxy in the 69th minute but his right-footed volley off a Johnson clearance glanced off the crossbar and over the goal.
If two shots could stand as a microcosm of the season, the ones by Lewis and Cole are instructive, with Lewis’ hitting the bar and going in and Cole’s bouncing away.
“Most things are going against us,” Cole said. “But one day it’s got to change. It can’t keep going or … carry on the whole season.”
Villa, the league’s leading scorer, then doubled the advantage four minutes later, beating Rowe with a bending right-footed shot from about 20 yards.
“I needed to do better,” said Rowe, who made just one save.
“I don’t think they earned those goals. Those are ones I think I gave to them.”
The Galaxy now get a 10-day break before resuming their season against the Columbus Crew on the road. And that gives the team a lot of time to think — and to do the math on its fading playoff hopes.
“It’s tough going into an off week and you have to kind of this taste in your mouth,” Rowe said.
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11