Goals on the road were tough to come by last year for the Seattle Sounders. That has not been the case this season as they try to wrap up a three-game trip with seven points Saturday against struggling Chivas USA.
Seattle (3-2-1) scored only 15 goals in 18 road matches last season while going 5-11-2. Led by the resurgent Clint Dempsey, who is rounding into form at an opportune time for the U.S. ahead of this summer's World Cup, the Sounders have already struck nine times in claiming seven of a possible nine road points through three matches.
Dempsey was in the center of the action again last Saturday with two goals, including the match-winner in the 85th minute of a 3-2 victory at FC Dallas. He's scored five of his MLS-leading six goals on the road and also had a hat trick in Seattle's 4-all draw at Portland on April 5.
"We're fighting back in games that look like they're starting to get away from us. We're winning ugly. We're grinding out results and we'll get things right," said Dempsey, who has scored three of his goals in the 85th minute or later, to the team's official website. "It's difficult to play away from home and to get the results that we have speaks volumes."
While the Sounders are getting away from last year's road woes, they haven't struggled much at Chivas USA of late. They've totaled 12 goals in going 3-0-2 in their last five matches there, and have won five straight in the series overall. They posted a 2-0 victory in their only trip last year despite playing the final 19 minutes with 10 men after Obafemi Martins - who scored the game's first goal - was given a red card.
"Teams have to come at us at home and if they come at us, we have talented guys who are going to hurt you," said Sounders forward Chad Barrett, who assisted on Dempsey's winner at Dallas. "They have to play against us and that's not good for them."
Chivas USA (1-2-3) has gone winless in five matches since a 3-2 win over Chicago on March 9. The lack of scoring has plagued the Red-and-Whites, who have scored only four goals during their victory drought - all by Erick Torres.
Torres helped Chivas salvage a point last Saturday, netting the equalizer in the 79th minute of a 1-all draw at Portland. The 21-year-old striker is second to Dempsey with five goals and is already two shy of matching his 2013 output over 15 games since coming over from the senior Mexican Chivas Guadalajara side last year.
Though Chivas was held to one goal, coach Wilmer Cabrera saw plenty of positives as his team showed attacking intent and earned 10 corner kicks after previously being overrun 3-0 by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first "SuperClasico" derby.
"We rebounded from a performance that didn't belong to us last week, and that's very positive especially here, away, against a good team, a talented team," Cabrera told Chivas' official website. "In the second half, we had the chance to create options and we scored an equalizer, which is a good reward for them."
Chivas should have the services of midfielder Oswaldo Minda, who has missed the last three games with a strained hamstring, but fellow midfielder Thomas McNamara is out with a knee injury.
Seattle is unbeaten in its last 11 (7-0-4) versus Chivas after losing the first two games between the teams.