The LA Galaxy's last two home matches have been ones to forget for manager Greg Vanney and his squad.
After giving up just two goals in their first four home contests, LA have now conceded three goals in back-to-back matches at Dignity Health Sports Park, starting with a 3-1 loss to FC Dallas last weekend and followed by a 3-0 defeat vs. Houston Dynamo FC on Sunday evening behind a goal and two assists from Sebastian Ferreira.
The turning point came in the 58th minute with the Galaxy trailing 1-0 and a series of attack-minded substitutes in the queue, containing Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Kevin Cabral and Douglas Costa. But Tyler Pasher's left-footed golazo from beyond the box doubled Houston's lead to give LA a much stiffer challenge with reinforcements pending.
"We got passive when Pasher got the ball and he put it on his left foot," said Vanney. "We were passive, we didn't close him up. He bends one to the back post and now you're down two goals, scrambling, and now all the fresh legs that are coming on the field have a much bigger hill to climb."
It also doesn't help that the Galaxy have struggled to put the ball in the net as well, with just Charlotte FC (12) and Chicago Fire FC (11) scoring fewer goals than LA's 13 alongside four other teams.
Vanney lamented his team's lack of "killer instinct" as part of their inability to beat Dynamo goalkeeper Steve Clark. LA have been shut out in four of 13 matches this year, keeping them at fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
"We created a fair number of chances [during] the first half," he said. "We had some balls that have to hit the back of the net. We don't, which is part of that killer instinct. For me, in front of the net, we've got to be ready to finish in one touch. We're trying to make it more perfect. We have opportunities to shoot, we have to make it more perfect and that can't happen. ... Every time you let those opportunities pass, you're more and more vulnerable as the game progresses."
LA will need a response with a huge US Open Cup Round of 16 match vs. LAFC looming on Wednesday (10:30 pm ET | ESPN+). They already beat their El Trafico rivals 2-1 earlier this year, but their form is waning at the moment.
The Galaxy were also one of MLS's best defensive sides a couple of weeks ago, but struggling home form has dented that perch.
"The message in that group is, we can play nice and lose games [and] that's unacceptable," Vanney said. "We have to find the ugly, and the fight, and the competitive side, and the killer instinct to win games, to take what can be nice moments of soccer and turn them into real winning soccer, which is the hard, nasty work that's done in front of the goal."