SAN JOSE, Calif. – With two wins and a tie away from Avaya Stadium already, the San Jose Earthquakes are not the worst MLS road side of 2017. As of Sunday morning, three clubs remained winless as visitors, and four had taken a smaller percentage than the Quakes of road points on offer.


If you were just tuning in to the Quakes’ performances outside the Bay Area, however, it’s understandable to find those numbers suspect. San Jose have dropped all three of their league road appearances under new coach Chris Leitch, all by multiple goals, by a combined 12-3 margin.


So in the wake of the Quakes’ 2-1 home victory Saturday over Columbus Crew SC, the obvious question was: How does San Jose – a perfect 3-0 at home under Leitch – get better on the road, where they’ll essentially be living for the next few weeks?


One key ingredient will be the momentum from beating Crew SC to open a critical three-game week, which includes a Wednesday stop in Kansas City for the US Open Cup semifinals (8:30 pm ET) and an always difficult trip to humid Houston on Saturday (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE).


After a brief Avaya return to face Philadelphia on Aug. 19, San Jose have three more league games on the road before finishing their MLS slate with four of the last six matches at home.


“It’s a good little gut-check time for us, in that it’s an important part of the season, where there’s a lot on the line,” Leitch told reporters after the Columbus victory. “That’s why tonight was so important, to keep our focus in this game, to dig into a game that, from the onset, maybe we weren’t as assertive as we’d like to be.


“To turn the tide and make the adjustments and come out in the second half with the right mentality and being able to close it out, even though conceding, was really important. We’re going to take this momentum into Wednesday’s big game.”

After key home win, Earthquakes target road success, starting with Open Cup - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/styles/image_landscape/s3/images/Leitch.jpg

San Jose could have won on Saturday in much more convincing fashion with crisper finishing; both Valeri Qazaishvili and Tommy Thompson found the woodwork in the closing minutes, and Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen stoned Qazaishvili in a one-on-one situation.


The Quakes suffered some similar near misses in their road losses under Leitch, especially in the club’s 5-1 defeat to the New York Red Bulls. San Jose were creating more chances in the opening half hour, and an opening goal there might have altered the course of events.


“It’s very important, these three points, because we feel confident right now,” said Quakes forward Marco Ureña, who opened the scoring against Columbus. “We lost those two away games in a row, so it’s not easy to keep the confidence back.”


In addition, that unsightly road goal differential is partially skewed by the fact that Leitch steadfastly refused to alter his team’s style while playing from behind, saying essentially that losing by three was no worse than by one, so there was no reason to give up hunting for goals.


To that end, the Quakes could get some reinforcements as early as Wednesday. Leitch said he felt both Anibal Godoy (knee) and Jahmir Hyka (hamstring) could be “ready to roll” against Sporting, and Qazaishvili is rounding into shape as a starting option.


“It’s going to be definitely difficult, going to Kansas City and Houston,” Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski said. “I think it’s going to test our depth. But I feel one of our strengths is our depth this year. It’s going to come to light, hopefully, this week.”