Quest for Three: Road Improvement vital for the LA Galaxy ahead of Portland Timbers clash

LA Galaxy fine tuning their style of play away from home as postseason looms

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As the LA Galaxy continue their Quest for Three, each week, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will discuss the upcoming match and its playoff implications. This week, we focus on LA’s ability to win away from StubHub Center ahead of their road match at JELD-WEN Field against the Portland Timbers.

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s prowess away from StubHub Center has long been a hallmark of the team that has reached the MLS Cup Final three of the last four seasons. But as they look for a record third straight title, they must rediscover their winning touch on the road—starting with their match at JELD WEN-FIELD against the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon.

In 2013, LA have struggled away from StubHub Center with a 3-8-3 record and went four months between their victories outside of the venue, though they did beat Chivas USA there as the road team on June 23. Their form has started to improve as of late as the team is unbeaten in their last three road games; however, the overall record away from home is still off the pace they set when they went 7-5-5 in 2011 and 6-6-5 in 2012.

However, the Galaxy’s improving form as of late is a cause for optimism for Landon Donovan.

“The game in Vancouver was really big and you can tell there was an excited feeling because we got back to playing on the road in the way that we know how,” said Donovan. “We have the pedigree and the players to do it, I think that we have to figure out—and we are figuring out—how to play on the road.”

As for the reason for LA’s struggles this season, Donovan believes that it may stem from the team’s aggressive attacking mindset. To date, LA’s goal output has been split relatively even between home and away with the team notching 20 of their 46 goals away from home. But when it comes to goals allowed, there is a greater disparity as LA have surrendered 28 regular season goals outside of StubHub Center compared to just eight in 14 games at home.

Sunday’s match against the Timbers may be LA’s penultimate road fixture this season—the Galaxy end the season away from home on Oct. 27 against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field—but Donovan is well-aware that the team must find the proper balance on both sides of the ball.

“We’ve developed an attacking style at home and sometimes we carry that on the road and we play better and we dominate games, but we’re not getting the results that we want,” said Donovan. “We may have to change it a little bit and take our foot [off the gas] a little bit to make sure that we’re more solid defensively. But the make-up of his team is to go and attack and score goals, so that’s not going to change much.”

The ability to get results on the road will be important as the Galaxy look to defend their title and win a record fifth MLS Cup championship. But ultimately, at this stage of the season, all that matters is getting the maximum number of points, no matter where the game is played.

“Home or away at this point, I think we need points,” said Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant. “Portland is a team that is right there with us. All these games matter, so it doesn’t matter if we’re home or away at this point. We need results.  We were struggling last year, but we won when it counted. This is a big game and we know it.”

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com