The Los Angeles Galaxy's impressive home record will face its stiffest test of the season on Saturday when they face the MetroStars at The Home Depot Center. It will be not only because the Galaxy will be forced to use several reserves in the starting lineup, but because the Metros are a fantastic road team.
The Metros have been nothing short of an anomaly this season. The team has registered four wins so far this season, three of them coming on the road. Why the Metrostars are so good on the road seems to be a simple answer to Galaxy coach Steve Sampson.
"I think any team prefers to play on grass. Any team that goes into Giants Stadium has to play on a sub-par surface," said Sampson. "I can't imagine them having too much joy when they walk on that pitch."
The Metros didn't record their first home win until earlier this week. That 2-1 result against the Chicago Fire on Tuesday added to a current run of impressive results that have the MetroStars streaking into Carson to take on the depleted Galaxy.
But for Galaxy midfielder Paulo Nagamura and the rest of the Galaxy it's just business as usual.
"We have to do the same as we have. We have to play our soccer," said the Brazilian. "If we play like that, for sure we're going to win the game."
Confidence certainly isn't in short supply in the Galaxy camp, especially following two consecutive shutouts and four points in their last two games. Those points have allowed the Galaxy to keep pace with Western Conference rival FC Dallas. With a long road trip looming on the horizon, every point will count on Saturday if the Galaxy are to keep the Hoops from pulling away in the standings.
"Dallas is playing very well right now," said defender Todd Dunivant, "We try not to worry about that too much. We just try to think about our ship."
In order to keep their ship going in the right direction, the Galaxy are going to have to defeat a Metrostars team that brings a lot of pace, youth, energy and, of course, two magicians in Amado Guevara and Youri Djorkaeff. The Frenchman, though, is listed as doubtful with a calf injury suffered in the Fire match.
With Tuesday night's game behind them, the Metros return to the "comforts" of the road with soft grass beneath their feet. Despite the impressive road record that Bob Bradley's has compiled, the Galaxy are quick to remind people that the HDC is still their house.
"Certainly when they come here they're going to enjoy the fact that they're playing at a very nice facility," Sampson said. "But it's very difficult for any team coming in here to win here."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.