Galaxy eye road success as key to turning season around

Robbie Keane congratulated by teammates

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CARSON, Calif. – The area where the LA Galaxy suffered most during their early-season struggles could now prove to be the key to turning thei season around.

Fresh off a 2-0 road victory over the Chicago Fire, the Galaxy hope to compile another victory away from the comforts of The Home Depot Center as the Galaxy will visit the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday (11 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). Another victory and the club will have three times as many road wins in the last three weeks as they did in their first three-plus months of 2012, making the key to the club's turnaround evident.

HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 0, LA 2

“It starts with winning games on the road,” defender Sean Franklin told MLSsoccer.com. “We have a stretch where we go on the road a little bit, and it’s huge, winning on the road.”

The Galaxy had just one road win before June 20, a 2-1 win at Colorado on April 21. But they beat Real Salt Lake on June 20 and toppled Chicago on Sunday. The win upped LA’s road record to 3-5-1, but more significantly it was the team’s first road shutout.

Slowly but surely, road success is beginning to bear fruit, and the clean sheet at Toyota Park was a perfect lead-in to the club’s upcoming schedule.

“That’s big for our team’s character and confidence going into a stretch of away games right now,” Franklin added.

The Galaxy will play five of their next seven matches away from the HDC before playing a stretch of four consecutive home games, beginning in late August. Should they do well on the road, the club could already be looking to cement their standing in the playoff race when the homestand starts up.

Part of the Galaxy’s task, though, is to find success in places that have not been kind of late. Road games in the near future include trips to FC Dallas Stadium and CenturyLink Field, where LA have lost in their most recent visits. JELD-WEN Field has also been unkind – the Galaxy fell badly there a year ago, losing 3-0 there last summer.

Finding success means overcoming obstacles, such as artificial surfaces, smaller field sizes and hostile crowds. The Galaxy will find all those on Saturday when they visit the Timbers, but players are confident their recent road struggles will help them find success.

“For them, [the field size is] an advantage, but there are smaller fields in the league,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “We have to learn lessons from the Houston game, from the San Jose game, those are both tighter fields, and you have to learn lessons from those games.”