SAN JOSE -- Earthquakes newcomer Matias Perez Garcia figures to wield his deft left foot in MLS stadiums galore over the next three months.
That's because the Quakes will finish with 10 of 15 on the road, a daunting stretch beginning Friday against the host Los Angeles Galaxy.
MLS teams typically struggle away from home, but the Quakes (6-8-5, 23 points) are riding a two-game winning streak and have a confident air about them, even as the injury bug keeps nipping away. The latest to go down was Yannick Djalo, who suffered a strained right quadriceps Saturday in a 1-0 win over Seattle after scoring for the second consecutive game.
"The team feels really good right now," coach Mark Watson said. "We've made some progress. Some of our players have really improved, so that's encouraging. We're coming off some good performances and some good wins."
Even still, Watson described the game against Los Angeles as a "big challenge."
While the Quakes' big picture seems daunting, players remain unfazed.
"Having 10 games on the road out of 15 is not ideal, especially if you're behind in the standings and need to push for the playoffs," winger Shea Salinas said. "But we don't even look at that. We just see the L.A. game as the next game on the schedule, and we need three points."
The Quakes are 2-0-1 in their past three games, outscoring opponents 7-2 as they transition to a more diverse attack.
Enter Perez Garcia, 29, the club's third-ever Designated Player: He is poised to make his debut against Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and the red-hot Galaxy (9-4-6, 33 points). This after only one week of practice with his new team.
Good luck with that.
"It'll be a good initiation for him to our league," Watson said. "More so than that, it's just making sure he's ready to play, even it's not for 90 minutes."
The 5-foot-5 Perez Garcia, who has to get his work visa to be able to play, is well aware of his team's place at the bottom of the Western Conference.
"Obviously, the team right now is not in a great position, but hopefully I can come in and help them," he said last week.
Perez Garcia has a much different style from that of Djalo, who likes to run at people.
Perez Garcia gets the ball, turns and looks to pass. He is considered a maestro on set pieces, something the club has lacked.
"When he gets the ball, we'll be looking to run off him a lot," Salinas said.
With Djalo and Steven Lenhart (knee) out, Quakes fans are eager to see more of Tommy Thompson, 18, who has impressed on loan from the Quakes' Sacramento affiliate.
He played for the MLS Homegrown team in Portland on Monday.
Thompson, who was on the bench for the Seattle match, has been brought along slowly after he missed five months following arthroscopic right knee surgery.
"We think his progress has been great," Watson said of Thompson, an under-20 national team player.
The Galaxy is coming off a 3-1 thumping of Portland, in which Keane had two goals and one assist. Keane was named MLS player of the week.
"He wants to get it in those little pockets in front of the back four," Watson said of Keane. "The more we can deny him service, the better. Then it's how do you deal with it once he does get the ball. He's without a doubt one of the top players in this league."
Earthquakes (6-8-5) at Los Angeles (9-4-6), 7:30 p.m. NBCSN