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Galaxy can't figure out why they play like visitors at home

Galaxy can't figure out why they play like visitors at home
Romain Alessandrini, right, and the Galaxy will try to make StubHub Center a less hospitable site for visiting teams to play. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Home may be where the heart is, but it certainly hasn't been where the wins are for the Galaxy this season.

And that's becoming cause for concern.

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"We have to win now at home," said midfielder Romain Alessandrini, the team's leading scorer. "We are good on the road, but we have to take points at home. It's very important."

Yet, after Wednesday's win in Colorado, the Galaxy are an MLS-best 5-2-1 away from StubHub Center and a league-worst 1-3-3 at home entering Saturday's home game with division-leading Sporting Kansas City.

Those numbers contradict a pair of trends. Over the past four full seasons, just two teams — the Seattle Sounders in 2014 and Sporting Kansas City in 2013 — have had winning records on the road. And the Galaxy, meanwhile, have never had a losing record at home.

In fact, their three losses at StubHub Center this season are just one fewer than their total number of home losses over the last three seasons combined.

"Some of it is circumstantial," said coach Curt Onalfo, whose team entered Saturday riding an eight-game unbeaten streak in MLS play despite missing six starters to injury. "A lot of the home games, we haven't been full strength. Now we've got that challenge. We've got to become dominant at home. So that's the next thing we're striving for."

It may take more than striving to make it happen, though. The Galaxy have been outscored 10-7 at StubHub Center, including three shutouts in seven games. On the road, they've outscored opponents 17-12 and had multiple goals six times in eight matches.

Defender Dave Romney, one of six current Galaxy starters under 25, has a theory he thinks explains the team's road success.

"We have a younger team this year. And on the road, you kind of just have to do dirty work," he said. "It's a lot of running, it's a lot of working hard. With us, all this running around and fighting for each other, that sort of style of play suits better for the road then say a veteran team that is used to possession.

"A younger team is probably going to feel better on a long trip, I guess"

Then Romney shrugs, smiles and adds: "That's the only thing I can think of really."

As scientific explanations go, that one's a bit lacking. But it's better than his reasoning for the team's struggles at home. On that topic he won't even venture a guess.

Nor will Onalfo. But being an optimist — "I don't see things negatively," he says — the coach insists on accenting the positive. Because if winning on the road is the more difficult task, it's one at which his team has already proven adept. And that confidence, their coach says, will be a big help going forward.

"We've proved that we're a team that can be successful on the road," he said. "We've got to continue to do well on the road and now we've just got to get our home record better. We've got to turn a couple of ties we had recently into wins. And turn that into dominance."

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Twitter: kbaxter11

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