Galaxy goes east for two games amid tight playoff chase

Galaxy goes east for two games amid tight playoff chase

Success for the Galaxy this season is usually found by scoring first and also when playing against the Eastern Conference.

When scoring the first goal, the Galaxy is 9-1-2. And even though it is a limited schedule against the East, the Galaxy has a 4-1-1 mark.

For the next two games, the Galaxy get to try to improve upon those numbers, visiting New England on Sunday and Toronto FC on Wednesday.

“You have very small advantage at home, but if you don’t know how to manage and you don’t know how to close the games, it doesn’t matter,” Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez said. “We’re going to play on turf (in New England), something we haven’t played on in a long time, against a very difficult team and then on to Toronto. We’re going to be ready.

“We’re happy, a little bit, to be on the road and we’re going to look for the three points in each game.”

Hernandez has regained his scoring touch of late, with four goals in his past three games. He’s also converted two penalty kicks after a stretch where he wasn’t taking them. He leads the teams with 11 goals.

“When we score first, normally we have more of a percentage of winning. And when the opponent scores first, we have one of the worst percentages to come back,” he said. “I think what you see is when we score, emotionally we have more confidence in a way, but that’s something to work on.

“We need to maintain consistency. People think that consistency means we need to score four goals each game and clean sheets every game, that’s not consistency. Consistency is giving the less amount of opportunities to our opponent and creating as much opportunities offensively, but then if that doesn’t happen, we need to be clever to manage to  getting points as much as we can both at home and away.”

The Galaxy (10-11-4, 34 points) started the week in the seventh and last playoff spot in the Western Conference, but fell below the playoff line due to Saturday’s games. New England and Toronto FC are below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.

“Like all teams in MLS, New England has pieces that can hurt you,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said. “It may not be their brightest moment in the last week, for me in 26 years in the league, it’s never easy to play in New England. You’re playing on synthetic, it’s a relatively slow surface, they’re pretty comfortable and good at home. It’s never an easy scenario.

“Like I said to our guys, it’s not going to be the beautiful game that you want it to be in New England. It’s going to be a game where you’re going to have to grit and do whatever you have to do. We’ve got to be able to come with some resiliency and toughness and defend strong in the moments where we have to defend strong and be reliable in the possession moments and we have to take our chances.”

New England is currently on a nine-game unbeaten streak at home and the Galaxy has lost four consecutive road games.

New signing

The Galaxy added Uruguayan defender Martin Caceres for the remainder of the season with an option for 2023.

“I feel like our group could use some leadership, some vocal presence, some nasty if you will, some tackling, some problem-solving back there,” Vanney said. “Somebody who has that experience, seen a lot of things, played in different shapes, feels confident and comfortable in adapting inside of the game and communicating to the players around them.”

Galaxy at New England

When: 5:08 p.m. Sunday

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

TV: Spectrum SportsNet

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