Galaxy feed off HDC's home cooking
The Los Angeles Galaxy will be looking to wrap up an undefeated and untied four-game homestand this Sunday when the Colorado Rapids come to town.
After a season-opening loss in Columbus, the Galaxy returned back home and their three games since have all been victories. Two wins were against the expansion teams and one against Western Conference front runner FC Dallas. All the wins have been impressive, as the Galaxy have jumped out early on their opponents, and held down the lead through the second half.
That the Galaxy have used this home run to jump near the top of the MLS should come as no surprise. The club has been near unbeatable at The Home Depot Center over the course of the last couple seasons, and the Galaxy players think they know why. They've lost just five league games in Carson of the 33 played, and over nine-plus seasons and 140 contests, the hometown fans have seen the Galaxy lose just 32 times.
"We have the best fans in the league," said Galaxy captain Pete Vagenas. "Not just the numbers that show up, but the passion that they bring to the game."
The Galaxy have led the league in attendance in six of the nine years so far. Since the opening of the HDC, they have led the league in attendance all three seasons. Last Saturday, the Galaxy became the first team to eclipse the three million fan mark.
The atmosphere created in the stadium is one that the players feed off as well.
"The electricity in the stadium is something I haven't seen domestically in six seasons in MLS," said Vagenas. "I think it's why you see us come out and play so well early."
It's not just the fans however. While they play their part, the players are the ones who have to get the job done on the field -- and the huge playing surface at the HDC is another reason why the Galaxy are so hard to beat at home.
"The field plays to our advantage," said Jovan Kirovski, a veteran of several European teams, now in second season with the Galaxy. "It's a big field with a lot of space for our big guys to take advantage of."
The Home Depot Center does house the largest playing surface in MLS, meaning opposing defenses have to cover a lot more ground than they're used to when trying to stop the Galaxy.
This year, the task of stopping the Galaxy is a lot more difficult. With pacy players like Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones and Guillermo Ramirez in the lineup, the Galaxy know how to use that space to get behind defenses.
The last time the Galaxy faced the Rapids, it came in the second leg of last year's Western Conference semifinal, where they overturned a one-goal deficit to win the series. This weekend Colorado team heads to Carson trying to get back on track after a tough home loss to the MetroStars. The Galaxy aren't going to make things easy on them though.
"It's important for us to protect our home," said Vagenas. "We want to go undefeated this year and make this the toughest place to play in MLS."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Majro League Soccer or its clubs.