So far, so good: Gal­axy rolling on road

L.A. can be part of fran­chise his­tory with vic­tory in D.C., but in­juries are a con­cern.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@la­ Twit­ter: @kbax­ter11

Bruce Arena is the win­ningest coach in na­tional team his­tory and, with three cham­pi­onships in eight full sea­sons with the Gal­axy, the most suc­cess­ful MLS man­ager of all time as well.

Curt Onalfo, his suc­ces­sor with the Gal­axy, has coached just 12 games with the team. Yet Onalfo has a chance Satur­day to do some­thing Arena never ac­com­plished.

A win over D.C. United (4 p.m., Spec­trum SN, Spec­trum De­portes) at RFK Sta­dium would make him the first coach in fran­chise his­tory to win four road games in as many weeks. And while that sounds like an es­o­teric stat, it’s ac­tu­ally quite an ac­com­plish­ment in a league where road teams — ex­clud­ing the Gal­axy — en­tered the week­end hav­ing won just 20% of the time.

To keep that streak go­ing, how­ever, the Gal­axy (55-2) will have to over­come two more crip­pling in­juries. Goal­keeper Brian Rowe is out six to eight weeks af­ter sus­tain­ing a groin in­jury in train­ing on Mon­day, and cen­ter back Daniel Steres was di­ag­nosed Wed­nes­day with a ham­string strain.

The Gal­axy have lost four starters in the last four games and 10 starters have missed at least one game be­cause of in­jury in the sea­son’s first three months. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Ro­main Alessan­drini, who leads the team in both goals and as­sists with six each, also limped out of last week’s phys­i­cal game in San Jose and was held out of train­ing early this week. He is ex­pected to play Satur­day.

Yet de­spite the in­juries the Gal­axy have con­tin­ued to thrive on the road, some­thing Onalfo said he be­lieves will build con­fi­dence go­ing for­ward.

“It would, psy­cho­log­i­cally, be a good thing for the group go­ing into games on the road, know­ing that you’re able to do that,” said Onalfo, whose team made its third trip to the East Coast this week­end and has al­ready trav­eled nearly 20,000 miles this sea­son.

“It’s not easy,” he added “to get points on the road.”

Lately the Gal­axy have been grab­bing points wher­ever they go, hav­ing played to draws in their last two home games be­fore win­ning three straight on the road, giv­ing them a five-game un­beaten streak.

Among MLS teams only Toronto has gone longer with­out a loss.

This week­end will be a test, though, be­cause with Rowe out and backup keeper Cle­ment Diop on in­ter­na­tional duty with Sene­gal, Jon Kempin is the likely starter in goal. If he does play, the game will mark his first MLS ap­pear­ance since 2015.

But he’ll be fac­ing a team that has scored a league-low 10 goals in 13 games this sea­son and hasn’t scored at all at home in more than a month.

Dave Rom­ney will take Steres’ spot, mark­ing his fourth start at his fourth dif­fer­ent po­si­tion along the back line this sea­son.

“I’m al­ready pre­pared for it,” Rom­ney said of his role as a su­per sub. “Ever since I’ve joined the first team I’ve al­ways kind of been in that po­si­tion. So I’m com­fort­able, I guess, fill­ing in at any­where now.”

The Gal­axy have got­ten com­fort­able, too, outscor­ing op­po­nents 11-4 since the first half of a home draw with the Chicago Fire nearly four weeks ago. Five of those goals have come from Gio dos San­tos while Alessan­drini has scored twice and added four as­sists, mak­ing them the most danger­ous duo in the league over the last month.

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