Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers
Venue: StubHub Center – Sunday, March 12 – 19:00 ET (23:00 GMT)
Match Odds: LA Galaxy 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – Portland 13/5
LA Galaxy host the Portland Timbers in a key early-season Western Conference clash on Sunday night, with Portland looking to put down a marker against a Galaxy side that struggled in last weekend’s home tie with Dallas.
LA knew this would be a transitional season, with new head coach Curt Onalfo tasked with getting a tune out of a new-look Galaxy side that has lost a sense of stardom this winter.
Their opening day defeat to Dallas last Saturday might have sent a message out to the rest of the West, but a second-straight home defeat to a Western rival would undoubtedly leave the alarm bells ringing.
Portland blew Minnesota away in the season opening game at Providence Park last Friday, with Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi both grabbing braces in a commanding performance.
The Timbers fell way short of expectations as MLS Cup holders last season but looked to have the bit between their teeth in last week’s contest. Another strong attacking performance from them would no doubt have teams worried across the league.
There’s a strong chance this game will be completely won in midfield. Sure, you can say that for a lot of games, but Portland’s new addition David Guzman stood out as one of the key players in the heart of the team’s midfield on opening weekend. Add in the fact that Jermaine Jones has picked up a suspension – along with Dave Romney – and it’s clear to see the home side are up against it if they want to prove that StubHub is still a fortress.
These two sides met twice in MLS last season, drawing 1-1 at StubHub before the Galaxy won in Portland in July. LA also knocked the Timbers out of the US Open Cup, with a 1-0 win at Providence Park in the Round of 16 last June.
LA Galaxy have been handed a double blow this week as Jermaine Jones and Dave Romney have been handed suspensions from the MLS Disciplinary Committee for tackles made in last week’s loss to Dallas. Robbie Rogers, Ashley Cole and Gyasi Zardes are all still injured too, so Onalfo is going to have to test his squad depth as early as Week 2 here.
Portland have lost left-back Vytas to an injury picked up in training this week, while fellow defenders Liam Ridgewell and Alvas Powell are both also struggling with knocks and are listed as ‘questionable’. Gbenga Arokoyo is out for the season.
LA Galaxy’s form: L
Portland Timbers’ form: W
Key Stat: Flurry – There have been an average of 3.4 goals-per-game in the previous 16 MLS meetings between these two sides.
Key Player: Diego Valeri – The Timbers playmaker got off to a perfect start last weekend, scoring two and assisting one in the 2017 MLS season opener against Minnesota – earning him the Week 1 Player of the Week award. He will be looking to unlock a Galaxy defence that is missing both first-team fullbacks for the second successive week.
LA Galaxy 1-3 Portland Timbers – The days of the Galaxy dominating the Western Conference look to be gone – for now at least – and Portland look set to pile more misery on the home side with victory on Sunday night. Fanendo Adi and Diego Valeri will cause the Galaxy backline a ton of problems if they can get in behind, while LA looked flat-footed for large parts against Dallas last weekend and showed little to suggest they can beat a side as talented as Portland.