CARSON, Calif. – While there are still two months remaining in the 2010 MLS calendar, the Los Angeles Galaxy still have a long road ahead of them on their journey to the MLS Cup playoffs.
Players can take solace, though, that the road won’t stray too far from home. Seven of the Galaxy’s last nine games will be played at The Home Depot Center, a stretch of games that begins Saturday against Kansas City.
“It’s good,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “It’s been a long haul. We’ve been on the road a lot this year. It’s been tough and hopefully we can take advantage of our home games and win [them].”
The Galaxy’s lone away matches are at Chicago (Sept. 4) and Philadelphia (Oct. 7). Technically, the Galaxy’s Oct. 3 match against Chivas USA is a road game, but the match will be played at The Home Depot Center, and the only “traveling” required for the match will be when Galaxy players and coaches sit on the opposing sideline during the match.
Perhaps having the comfort of reduced travel and a more settled training schedule will help the Galaxy get past their recent skid. In their last six games, LA are 2-3-1 and have not won consecutive games since early June.
“We’ve just got to tighten up the screws, I guess,” said forward Edson Buddle. “We have some time to get things right before the playoffs.”
Setting things straight could prove an easier task given their schedule. After Saturday’s game against Kansas City, LA will play three games at Home Depot Center in both September and October. With a 6-1-2 home record to their credit, the club’s chances of accumulating points consistently again seem increased.
“One of our advantages all year is being able to just look at the game that’s ahead of us. For us, that puts the most emphasis on Kansas City,” midfielder Chris Klein said. “When you look at the schedule and see the amount of games at home, I think that makes this game that much more important … to gain that confidence at home.”
While other Western Conference teams have six home games left, the Galaxy’s match at Chivas USA puts them ahead of their competition and gives them a bit of an edge. Also, both Columbus and Real Salt Lake, two of the Galaxy’s competitors in the chase for the Supporters’ Shield, have played 11 home games.
Success at home now guarantees the chance for a straight path to MLS Cup 2010.
“Where we are right now, one of our clear goals is to win the Supporters’ Shield,” Klein said. “When you do that, if you get out of that first round of the playoffs, you’re guaranteed home-field advantage again.”
Last season, the Galaxy used their home games to their advantage, reaching MLS Cup 2009 after winning both of their home playoff games by shutout. By the time this year’s playoffs begin, LA want to ensure their home stadium becomes more of a fortress.
“Time is now for us to start establishing the Home Depot Center as a place where no team wants to come and play,” said Klein.