The Vancouver Whitecaps have lost all five times they have gone on the road to face the Los Angeles Galaxy.
New Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson will get his first chance to try to change that Saturday night in the first of consecutive meetings between these Western Conference rivals.
Los Angeles (1-1-1) has outscored Vancouver 12-2 in five home meetings. The Whitecaps host the Galaxy next Saturday to cap this unusual two-game stretch.
"Obviously them being one of the better teams, it's time for us I suppose to raise our game and really test ourselves to see how good we are," Vancouver defender Jay DeMerit said.
Robinson has guided the Whitecaps (2-1-2) to a solid start, although the club suffered its first defeat last Saturday, 2-1 at home to Colorado.
The coach is a very familiar face to Galaxy star Robbie Keane. They began their playing careers together in 1995 with Wolverhampton Wanderers, making their debuts with that English club two years later.
"He's a good friend of mine and I'm delighted he was given the opportunity," Keane told the Galaxy's official website. "He's young, enthusiastic and has good ideas."
Robinson also reminisced about their time together.
"He was 17 and I was 21," the coach told the Whitecaps' official website. "We obviously developed a rapport and we've remained very good friends ever since."
Los Angeles is 5-0-1 against Vancouver with Keane in the lineup. He has two goals and two assists in those games.
Keane has two goals this season, and the Galaxy are 9-0-3 in MLS games in which he has scored since a 2-1 loss to Seattle on Nov. 18, 2012.
One of the defenders tasked with slowing down Keane is former Republic of Ireland teammate Andy O'Brien. These players have met 14 times in various leagues, with Keane's teams holding a 7-4-3 edge.
"Not only does Robbie score goals, he creates goals," O'Brien said. "He needs closing down and he's one of a number of players that they've got that can score goals as has been demonstrated so far this season."
Keane and fellow designated player Landon Donovan will be the focal point of the Galaxy's attack while Vancouver is hoping its star designated player - Pedro Morales - will have a huge impact.
Morales, who has been battling an undisclosed injury this week, has two goals and an assist at home but has come up empty on the road.
"We've played five games and he has been electric at home, he really has," Robinson said. "It's important that he tries to carry that form on the road."
Keane scored the opener in last Sunday's 3-0 victory over Chivas USA. Backup goalkeeper Brian Perk recorded his first clean sheet.
Regular starter Jaime Penedo is available again, but it's unclear who coach Bruce Arena will start.
The Whitecaps won't have suspended midfielder Matias Laba, who was sent off last weekend against the Rapids.
Donovan is still seeking his first goal, which would give him 135 in MLS and break a tie with Jeff Cunningham for the most in league history.
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- Vancouver Whitecaps
- Los Angeles Galaxy
- Robbie Keane