After climbing atop the Eastern Conference with an impressive road win against the defending MLS Cup champion, D.C. United is headed west for another difficult test.
The Los Angeles Galaxy will be waiting Wednesday night along with a sterling home record in a matchup of two of the league's top teams over the last three months.
United's 3-0 win Saturday was its first in 10 matches at Sporting Kansas City. The club vaulted to the top of the East in resounding fashion with three first-half goals in a seven-minute span by Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe and Perry Kitchen.
D.C. (13-7-4) now finds itself in a favorable position to go from worst to first after winning just three league matches in 2013. Another victory would bump it past Seattle for the Supporters' Shield lead.
"It's still a long season," coach Ben Olsen told the club's official website. "It's nice for these guys to be on top for all the hard work they have put in. They get that there is more to this than right now, and we have got to quickly refocus and go to LA."
The last nine matches against the Galaxy have left United winless at 0-4-5, while its last eight visits to LA have resulted in four losses and four draws. Its last away victory in the series came over nine years ago.
"Everyone is excited to play there," former Galaxy defender Sean Franklin said. "LA, over the years, has been one of the best clubs in MLS, and for me it was fun to play there. We are up for the challenge. I think today was a good win for us to take the momentum into Wednesday's game and we have to bring the same mentality. It is going to be a tough game against them."
At home, the Galaxy (11-5-7) are 7-0-2 since losing their season opener March 8.
Since May 21, Los Angeles has secured a MLS-best 31 points with a league-high 33 goals in the 15-game span. Nine of those matches have ended in wins, and the only other team in the league to match that mark in its last 15 league contests is United.
The latest Galaxy win was Saturday's 2-0 home triumph over Vancouver. Robbie Keane assisted Landon Donovan in the fourth minute and Marcelo Sarvas in the 32nd.
Keane has a goal and three assists in two matches and three goals and an assist in two career matches against United. Donovan has scored in consecutive matches to go along with 13 goals and four assists in his last 13 games across all competitions against D.C.
While D.C. might be hogging headlines after passing Kansas City, LA also now finds itself in the mix for the Supporters' Shield as one of six clubs with at least 40 points after a slow start.
"It's taken a long time, but we have a real chance now," Donovan told the club's official website. "We play Dallas twice more, we play Seattle twice more, so really, it is in our hands. Obviously, (we have a) big game with big implications on Wednesday."