Galaxy seek first home win since April vs. New York City FC

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[August 12, 2017]  By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange

There has been plenty of water under the bridge and even a coaching change in Los Angeles in the four-plus months since the Galaxy won a match at home.

New York City FC will be out to extend the Galaxy's woeful streak on their home pitch when the sides square off Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

Los Angeles (6-11-5, 23 points) has slumped to a 1-6-4 mark at home, with its most recent victory on April 7 at StubHub Center when it defeated Montreal 2-0. Who would have thought that win in the first weeks of spring would be the only one for the Galaxy as the season hits its final third?

The eight-match home winless streak is LA's longest swoon since 2010 and just three short of tying the longest home winless run in MLS since 2010 (11, Colorado).

Los Angeles fell 3-1 to Portland on Sunday to extend its streak without a victory in league play to six games. That run of bad form has pushed the Galaxy to ninth place in the Western Conference, nine points out of the West's final postseason place with 12 games remaining.

Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid said after the loss to the Timbers that his team can't even think about the postseason until it starts playing better. Saturday's match against NYCFC has to be considered a must win at home to right a lot of recent wrongs.

"We can't get caught up in points -- we need to get caught up in playing better soccer," Schmid said. "Right now, we're just not playing good soccer. We need to compete more for the right opportunities."

Schmid says his team must become more balanced and work to make home matches a gauntlet for the Galaxy's opponents.

"We want to establish our home ground again," he said. "We need to regain our home-field advantage. Teams used to come and play the Galaxy and there was fear in their hearts. Now, there is not so much fear anymore. At the end of the day, all that re-establishes that confidence and that fear is to win games."

The fly in the ointment to Schmid's plan is that NYCFC (12-7-4, 40 points) is one of MLS' top road teams, earning four wins and a draw in 11 matches away from home.

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NYCFC heads to Southern California on the heels of a dramatic 3-2 home victory over the New York Red Bulls in which David Villa garnered his first MLS hat trick -- including two goals in the final 20 minutes -- to spur the win.

Villa passed Chicago's Nemanja Nikolic to move on top of the Golden Boot race with 17 goals in 22 matches. NYCFC has 11 games to play and Villa is 10 goals from tying the league record for a season.

Since beating crosstown rival New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on June 24, NYCFC has failed to win on the road and has conceded seven goals in two games away from Yankee Stadium.

NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira expects Saturday's match to require the same amount of intensity from his side to produce success.

"I expect the team to work as hard as they did against the Red Bulls, and I'm looking for the team to be sharp in their minds and to give everything they have on the field," Vieira said. "We have to play well, we will have to be focused and concentrated from the start to the end -- we have to challenge them. If not, it'll be an easy game for them.

"Los Angeles is always a difficult team to play against. They've had some up and downs in the season, but if you look at their team individually, there is a lot of talent and, like always, it's going to be really tough and difficult."

Since NYCFC's club record-equaling four-match win streak in June, it has not managed to string together back-to-back victories in MLS.

It's the first and only time the teams will play this season and just the third time Los Angeles and New York City FC have met. Each team won at home in the past two years.


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