Work crews are scheduled to descend on the StubHub Center this weekend to rip out the main stadium’s field in preparation for next week’s CrossFit Games. The Galaxy might want to consider saving a few blades of grass before that happens, though, because their home turf has proven luckier than a four-leaf clover.
Friday’s 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo extended their home unbeaten streak at home to 10 games this season and left them with 41 wins — versus five losses — at the StubHub Center since 2012. On the road, meanwhile, they’ve won twice in nine tries this year and just 13 times in 60 games over the last 3½ seasons.
None of those numbers surprised defender A.J. DeLaGarza, the team’s active leader in terms of games played for the Galaxy.
“You look around the league and I think everyone has a better home record than road record,” he said. “You’re more comfortable, [you have] your fans. There’s a bit of an edge to that.”
The edge Friday wasn’t so much home cooking as it was a second-half goal from Steven Gerrard, who has either scored or assisted on five of the Galaxy’s last six goals. Friday’s score was his third of the season — and his third at the StubHub Center.
Baggio Husidic started the scoring sequence by launching a long through ball from the Galaxy side of the midfield stripe. The pass found Robbie Keane breaking up the left wing but Keane, who had a difficult night, put his low shot right into the boots of Houston keeper Joe Willis.
Fortunately for the Galaxy, the rebound skidded straight to Gerrard, and with Willis out of the net Gerrard had little problem slotting the ball by defender Sheanon Williams into the lower right corner, giving the Galaxy the only goal it would need for a third straight win.
About 10 minutes later, in the 76th minute, Keane was denied again when his goal was waved off by an offside call — and those weren’t the only scoring chances the Galaxy captain missed on the night.
Later in the opening half Keane was a step short of a Gyasi Zardes’ pass at the far post, then he broke the wrong way on passes from Zardes and Giovani dos Santos early in the second half.
“Robbie didn’t get a goal but he was in position to get a couple,” Coach Bruce Arena said. “Robbie was a threat all night.”
As for the Galaxy’s home-away split, Arena said the travails of travel in Major League Soccer deserved most of the blame. MLS teams, unlike teams in the other four major U.S. sports leagues, use commercial flights, not charters, forcing them to endure the same long security lines, flight delays and cramped seats other business travelers deal with.
“It’s very difficult to travel and play away in this league. Altitude, time zones,” said Arena, who pointed to the fact five teams, including Houston, are winless on the road more than halfway through the season.
For his team, meanwhile, Friday’s shutout was the third in as many games — and the Galaxy are unbeaten in their last six. But, DeLaGarza insisted, the team still has room to improve.
“Lately we’ve been defending well,” he said. “So we are getting the shutouts, we’re getting goals. And now we’ve just got to play better.”