Dynamo hope to use home pitch advantage to beat Galaxy

The Houston Dynamo and the Los Angeles Galaxy have struggled to produce points even when they are playing good soccer and will look to change that trend when they meet Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston.

Houston, last year’s Western Conference finalist, is just 2-3-2 this season, with the latest setback a 2-1 road loss to an injury-decimated and desperate Minnesota United FC team on April 28.

The Dynamo had the start they wanted. Alberth Elis scored his fourth goal of the season in the 10th minute. From then on, Houston struggled, allowing the tying goal on a penalty kick before losing the game deep into the second half.

“I’m disappointed because we came over here with the idea of winning the three points,” Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera said after the loss at Minnesota. “We played well, we gave up two goals with two crosses. That’s concentration. We work on that. That’s something we need to fix because that’s not acceptable since we have experienced guys.”

After being nearly unbeatable at home last season, the Dynamo are just 2-2 on their home pitch in 2018. Cabrera said his team is better than its record shows and needs to find a way to close out games.

“We are a better team than we are showing, but we are just not translating that to better soccer and into goals,” Cabrera said. “In the end, it’s not how you play, it’s about how many points you are getting or not getting. We have to improve.”

Los Angeles has struggled at home this season, losing their past three matches, including a 3-2 loss to New York Red Bulls last Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The Galaxy rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the match on goals by Ola Kamara and Giovani dos Santos while employing a new-look 4-3-3 formation.

“If you chase the goal, you play different,” Los Angeles forward Ziatan Ibrahimovic said after the loss to New York. “We played much different in this game because we changed the tactic. It was working better — we were more solid today.

“But still, you losing the game after six minutes is not OK. To receive a goal so fast, chase that, and the second half starts and you concede another goal fast, you are still chasing.”

Los Angeles looked closer to the team it expects to be in the loss to the Red Bulls and utilized its new formation to find the net four times. The problem is only two of those goals counted.

“I know it sounds like a broken record, but it takes a little bit of time (to get to where we want to be),” Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid said. “As a group, just the final decision-making needs to get better, but that’s if they can play together more. This is the first time this formation played together.”

The Galaxy will have to play better, and more together, to beat the Dynamo in Houston. Los Angeles has not won consecutive road games since a three-game winning streak from May 14 to May 27, 2017.

Los Angeles lead the all-time series with Houston 10-9, with seven ties, including the most recent matchup in Houston last September. The Dynamo have a 6-5 edge over the Galaxy in games played in the Bayou City, with three ties.

The Galaxy has lost just one of their past eight matches against Houston (4 wins, 3 losses), with a total of 10 goals scored in the last two matches between the sides.