By Will Conwell
The game starts at 7:30 PM on KPDX Fox 12. If you do not have cable or want a good Portland establishment to enjoy with friends, we have a couple suggestions from our sponsors.
Watch Timbers Games in Portland:
East Burn (East Burnside & 18th) | (503) 236-2876 | More info: www.theeastburn.com
East Burn will have the game on a large projection screen on their heated patio and also downstairs. Recess discount menu from 3-6PM. They have daily drink specials (pdf of specials here).
Blitz (Ladd, Pearl, Tigard, NW 21) | More info: blitzbarpdx.webs.com
Blitz's FOUR locations will be happening as always with tons of televisions, drinks specials, and games (ping pong, shuffleboard, buckhunters, horseshoes in Tigard, and more).
Game Preview: Portland Timbers vs LA Galaxy
Game 5: Portland Timbers (1W-3L-1T) vs LA Galaxy (1W-3L-0T)
Saturday, April 14, 7:30 p.m.
Previous match-up(s): 4/23/11 3-0 Away Loss, 8/3/11 3-0 Home Win
Listen/Watch: KPDX Fox 12, 750 AM: THE GAME, PortlandTimbers.com
FREE BUS RIDES TO GAMES: Ride Blitz Bus To Portland Timbers Games | FREE Rides from Blitz Tigard & Ladd to Jeld-Wen Field
The Portland Timbers travel to Carson, California today to take on the Los Angeles Galaxy with the losers set to claim the worst record in Major League Soccer’s western conference. Riding a three match losing streak, the Timbers will be desperate for a good showing, while even a tie against LA would be an improvement over the 3-0 loss Portland suffered the last time they visited the Home Depot Center to play the Galaxy. The Galaxy, after being widely predicted to run away with the league this year during the preseason, are in an equally precarious spot with only three points so far on the season. What smarts even more for last year’s champions is being held without a shot on goal last week against current league leaders Sporting Kansas City despite their star studded line-up.
Against Chivas USA, the Timbers finally were able to claim the first goal in the game for the first time this season: a scrappy affair that Kris Boyd put away for his second goal of the season. However, despite putting in a good first half performance, the Timbers collapsed in the second half when tactical adjustments and the key substitution of Ryan Smith by Chivas USA coach Robin Fraiser pinned the Timbers back and eventually lead to two second half goals for Chivas. Under pressure all week, the Timbers will need to put in a very different performance today if they want to climb their way back up the standings.
Expect some changes for the Timbers from their line-up last week as Rodney Wallace, coach John Spencer’s first choice at left back this season, is out with an ankle sprain. Mike Chabala, who scored in the Timbers 3-0 home rout of LA last year, will take Wallace’s place and will be tasked with shutting down the service of LA’s right midfielder (maybe you have heard of him) David Beckham. The Timbers should see another change in their back line as Hanyer Mosquera makes his way back from a concussion and fractured orbital, suffered against the New England Revolution. Mosquera will displace rookie centerback Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste aquitted himself well in his two starts with the team, but the Timbers’ recent defensive woes did not hielp him lay claim to the starting spot on a permanent basis.
Up front the Timbers will likely start a pairing of Kris Boyd and Darlington Nagbe. Although the two did not see much success against Chivas, the defensive style of LA will certainly lend itself to Nagbe’s strengths. When given room to operateNagbe is capable of producing sensational goals, as evidenced by this year’s game against Real Salt Lake. The decision to give him the start up top will have been made easier by the return of Franck Songo’o and Kalif Alhassan to full fitness. While both have been playing through injuries, John Spencer pronounced both players to be fully fit this week in practice, leaving the decision of who will start until game-time.
The Galaxy have several players of their own returning to full fitness after suffering knocks early in the season. Their attack in particular has stuggled but has the pieces to pick apart any team in the league. In addition to Beckham, the Galaxy also boast US international Landon Donovan on the left wing while internationally known strikers Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane man the front line. Buddle joined the team in the offseason after spending a successful season in Germany and has yet to get with Keane, but the combination of a MLS goalden boot winner in Buddle and English Premier League star in Keane will be fearsome when they get on the same wavelength.
On offense, the Timbers will need to stretch the Los Angeles defense, giving Darlington Nagbe and Kris Boyd the space in which to work. The Timbers have had trouble breaking down tightly packed opponents, but the attacking style of LA as well as the with of the pitch at the Home Depot Center, should give the Timbers ample oppertunity to get free and take players on.
On defense, the Timbers need to work together as a team for the entire 90 minutes. Even against Real Salt Lake, when the Timbers looked like the better team for 90% of the game, they fell apart in the final minutes and were not able to put the game away. Where they finally fell apart was in the team’s inability to hold the ball in the later minutes. Without the ability to retain possession, the Timbers will be constantly under attack, which has not worked out well for the team this season.
TIMBERS LEADING SCORERS
Darlington Nagbe - 3
Kris Boyd - 2
Kalif Alhassan - 1
Andrew Jean-Baptiste - 1
TIMBERS PREDICTED LINE-UP
Palmer (RB), Brunner (CB), Mosquera (CB), Chabala (LB)
Alexander (RM), Chara (CM), Jewsbury (CM), Songo’o (LM)
Boyd (F), Nagbe (F)
While there is still plenty of time to go before the end of the season, the Timbers need to start putting the pieces together soon. With a number of players coming back from injury, the Timbers are working their way back to full strength. A win away against last year’s MLS Cup champions, no matter their form, will not be easy to come by, but the Timbers have the individual skills to do it. Whether the team can come together or not on the field remains to be seen.
Pipeline's Portland Timbers coverage by:
Will Conwell is an aspiring novelist who spends his free time unloading trucks in warehouses. His passions in life are soccer, beer, and writing, which he has found are best enjoyed in concert. Will can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at TimbersPipeline.