Home field is no advantage for Galaxy

Home field is no advantage for Galaxy
Galaxy defender Nathan Smith is tripped up by Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku during an exhibition at StubHub Center on July 15. (Ringo Chiu / Getty Images)

The Galaxy have gone through 28 players, two coaches and 22 games in the first 5 1/2 months of the MLS season. Yet they entered Saturday night's game against New York City FC with only one home win to show for all that trouble.

"That's unacceptable," said defender Dave Romney, who admitted he had no explanation for the drought.


And until the Galaxy find an explanation, the playoffs will almost certainly remain out of reach. The team began the weekend riding a seven-game winless streak that has pushed it closer to the Western Conference cellar than to the conference's sixth and final postseason spot.

"I have no clue," Romney said when asked for a remedy. "I play the exact same way home and away. Once you're on a soccer field, it's a field. Any grass field you step on, it should be a fair game. So I don't understand why we're so bad at home."

Not just bad, but inept to a level of historic proportions. If the Galaxy don't win at least one of their final six games at the StubHub Center, beginning Saturday, they'll break the MLS record for fewest home wins in a season.

They need at least two wins to avoid matching the Tampa Bay Mutiny for home futility. The Mutiny won only two home games in 2001, after which they were immediately expelled from the league.

And the Galaxy must run the table at home to avoid matching, or erasing, the franchise low for home wins at six. That's unlikely since the Galaxy (6-11-5) have only one victory over a team with a winning record this year.

The Galaxy won only six times at the StubHub Center in three consecutive seasons, from 2006 to 2008, when the MLS season was shorter. On the flip side, the team has lost two or fewer home games in a season seven times.

"We need to make our home a fortress again," coach Sigi Schmid, in his second stint as the Galaxy's coach, said of a franchise that set the league record for most home points (41) when it went undefeated in the StubHub Center in 2011. "It's a difficult hill to climb. It gets in your head a little bit sometimes.

"What needs to happen is you need to get a win. It doesn't matter how it comes."

But though the Galaxy have struggled at home, they have actually held their own on the road, winning a record-best five games. That had Schmid jokingly suggesting some solutions for the team's home woes.

"We could … pretend we're going on the road," he said. "We could fly in from Ontario. That might be an option."

Other options would be keeping their best players on the field. Captain Jelle Van Damme was suspended for his second straight game Saturday and injuries have ravaged the rest of the roster this season, leaving midfielder Ema Boateng as the only player to appear in each of the team's first 22 matches.

That has forced the team to give almost 40% of its minutes this season to homegrown players or graduates from the Galaxy II reserve team, four of whom made their MLS debuts this season.

"The depth of the team needs to be a little bit stronger," said Schmid, who took over for Curt Onalfo after Onalfo was fired three games ago.

"You need guys that can step in."


Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11