NWSportsBeat MLS Previews
The Portland Timbers (1-3-1, eighth in Western Conference) play host to Los Angeles Galaxy (1-3-0, ninth in Western Conference) at the Home Depot Center at 7:30 in Carson, Calif.
Saturday’s match features the two teams with the lowest point totals in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.
It also features the conference’s worst defensive squads as the Galaxy and Timbers are both dead-last in the Western Conference in goals allowed with eight.
In order to help stop the bleeding on the defensive end, Los Angeles made a move to boost the team’s defensive productivity by trading midfielder Paolo Cardozo to Chivas USA for Brazilian defender David Junior Lopes and will be eligible to play against the Timbers.
1). Contain Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane’s name should ring a bell to the casual soccer fan. The all-time leading scorer in Ireland’s history, the forward was a star for Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League when he scored 82 goals in 197 appearance for the team from 2002-2008. In 2012, Keane is the squad’s most significant offensive threat and is the Galaxy’s leader in goals (three), shots (18), and shots on goal (nine).
Forward Edson Buddle and midfielder Marcelo Sarvas (one apiece) are the only other Galaxy players to score this season.
Since he turned professional, the 31 year-old has played for Wolverhampton, Coventry City, Liverpool, Celtic, and Aston Villa. In 115 appearances for the Irish national team, Keane has netted 53 goals.
2). Don’t Get Star Struck
David Beckham and Landon Donovan are arguably the faces of MLS for better or for worse, but they have not been the best players on the pitch. Beckham has played well this season in his appearances, while Donovan has struggled to regain mid-season form thus far. Both of these players should not be feared in any capacity.
It is Keane who has been the most significant offensive threat on the pitch for the Galaxy, not Beckham or Donovan.
3). Create Opportunities
Coach John Spencer must devise ways for his team to get better looks at the goal in the second half. One can blame the defensive performance in the second half of most games for zapping the momentum from the forwards and midfielders, but at some point accountability must be taken for the inability to score goals when the defense is reeling. The team is 0-2-0 when outshot by their opponents.
4). Score First
As predicted here last week, the Timbers broke their unwanted streak of failing to score first at four consecutive games.
The Timbers must make sure that a new streak doesn’t resume in Carson. This may sound repetitive, but consdering there are two points to consider: First, Portland has only gained the upper-hand once in five matches this season and as evidenced by their defensive efforts, the team needs all of the momentum they can muster early in a match in order to survive at the end of one.
5). Finish Games
The team has given away a handful of matches so far this season. Except for the mishap in the first minute against the Revolution, the team has consistently produced quality first halves. The last 45 minutes have been where the team has unraveled. X’s and O’s are not the issue, but rather the energy or lack thereof.
The Timbers must prove that they can play a full 90-minute match in order to put three points on the board.
Galaxy forward is a Beaverton-native Chad Barrett and was the 2002 4A OSAA Player of the Year at Southridge High School…This season the Timbers are 0-1-1 on the road and are 1-2-0 in night matches… The all-time series is square at 1-1-0, with both squads earning 3-0 home shutouts last season.