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Sounders return to the road to face old nemesis Los Angeles

The latest test away from home will be against a very tough Galaxy side that features MVP candidate Robbie Keane.

Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy
September 21, 2013, 7:30 pm PT; StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network; 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)

No team in Major League Soccer has won more than the five road matches won by Sounders FC in 2013. And only Sporting Kansas City’s 1.38 points per match away from home is better than the 1.23 points per match put up by Seattle when the team is away from CenturyLink Field.

For those in the locker room, though, it’s not good enough. When the Sounders face the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center on Saturday, they will have a chance to get that record up to their standards.

“We’re playing away from home now and our road record is usually good and this year it hasn’t been as good,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “If we find ourselves on the road in the playoffs like we have in the past, we’ve got to get a result. So this is a good testing point for us leading into the playoffs.”

If Seattle seems to have outlandish expectations on the road, it is for good reason.

In 2011 Sounders FC set the standard with a 9-3-5 record, posting 1.88 points per match en route to a second-place finish in the Western Conference standings. In other seasons, Seattle has finished 5-5-5 (1.33 PPM) in 2009, 6-6-3 (1.40 PPM) in 2010 and 4-4-9 (1.23 PPM) in 2012. Overall, Sounders FC has the second-best road record in the league since 2009 at 29-25-23, just six points behind the LA Galaxy in one less match.

This season’s high-ranking road record is countered with three road defeats that stand out in the minds of players and pundits to Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy. Consistently among the top teams in MLS, RSL and LA have been Seattle’s opponents in the MLS Cup playoffs in each of the last three seasons. If form holds in 2013, the Sounders would likely have to face one or both again if they hope to reach the MLS Cup final.

“The way our league is set up, to win an MLS Cup or anything, you have to perform on the road as well,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve got a tough game coming up in Los Angeles and we know we still have some games in hand, but we want to succeed on the road as well because that’s important.”

LA is among the best in the league at home, touting a 9-2-2 record at the StubHub Center this year. That includes a 4-0 win over Seattle in their previous meeting there on May 26 when Robbie Keane netted his first of two hat tricks this season. At that point, Seattle was riding a six-match unbeaten streak. Now on a five-game winning streak and with an 8-1-0 record in its last nine matches, Seattle has risen to the top of the Western Conference standings and the race for the Supporters’ Shield. With four of Seattle’s final seven matches coming away from CenturyLink Field, it has the chance to build road momentum into the playoffs.