A New Beginning
Needless to say, it has been a tumultuous week for the Portland Timbers. Last Saturday, they fell 3-0 for the second time in three games and fired of head coach John Spencer because of that result.
With Spencer out and Gavin Wilkinson in, the Timbers face yet another tough test at home in the form of the Los Angeles Galaxy led by Landon Donovan.
Can the Timbers find any amount of hope in this dreary 2012 season?
Kickoff: 11:00 pm EST – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Oregon) – NBCSN
Por 5-8-4 (5-2-2 H)
LA 7-10-2 (3-5-1 A)
The 2012 MLS season has not been friendly to Portland nor Los Angeles, who were both looking to be among the top teams within the league. Unfortunately for both, luck has not been on their side.
Despite crucial victories against the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes, Portland has been unable to forward any momentum this season, resulting in a disappointed and stunned fan base.
Los Angeles has only recently begun to turn things around. After beginning the season with a flurry of close losses, the Galaxy are finally starting to hit their stride; bad news for the Timbers.
The Portland Timbers
As already documented, head coach John Spencer is now out, leaving place for Gavin Wilkinson. Wilkinson, who previously led the Timbers for four years before their move to the MLS, will be looking to continue the home undefeated streak the Timbers are currently nursing.
Despite struggles on the road, the Timbers are quite successful at home. They currently hold a six game undefeated streak, a streak that includes four wins.
Though JELD-WEN has been a home-field advantage for the Timbers throughout the season, it will be interesting to see if the fans can still get behind a squad that is unable to find any continuity.
Portland will be missing Diego Chara after he failed to keep a cool temper in last weeks loss to Real Salt Lake.
The LA Galaxy
After suffering two straight losses, the Galaxy were finally able to find a way to put together a win last week against the Chicago Fire.
Led by Donovan and David Beckham (recently awarded the MLS top player award — not really sure if he deserves it), the Galaxy have started to ascend the ranks in the Western Conference and are now sitting in 5th place, putting them in prime playoff contention once again.
The Galaxy will have a tough time in JELD-WEN, but the fact that they came away with a 1-0 Galaxy just over one month ago at Portland should console them a little.
Unfortunately for the Galaxy, Juninho will sit out this match as he has received too many cautions.
Matchup to Watch: Portland Defenders vs. Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan
The toughest test for the Portland Timbers on Saturday night will be to slow down the powers of both Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. Though there are plenty of quality duos in the MLS, none pack the amount of star power or fire power than Keane and Donovan.
In just 16 games in the MLS, Keane (previously part of the EPL and Irish system) has already scored 8 goals, showcasing just how much of a knack he has for finding the goal.
Donovan, who uses his deceptive speed and excellent ball skills to blow through defenders, will be looking to continue his MLS dominance and prime himself for the all-star break.
While Donovan and Keane do present a formidable opponent, the Timbers defensive backs will be looking to prove they can stand up to the best of players. Using a rotation of backs (mostly due to injury), the Timbers will have more than enough depth to help spell the attack of the Galaxy.
It will be interesting to watch whether or not the Timbers backs can defend against the best duo in the MLS.
Though the Timbers will be aided by the home-field advantage that JELD-WEN provides, I don’t see them walking away with a win or draw against the Galaxy.
The loss of Chara coupled with uncertainty surrounding the team will be too much of a distraction and disability for the Timbers to overcome.
Beckham, Donovan, and Keane should help forward the Galaxy attack en route to a victory in Portland, cementing themselves once again as a formidable MLS team.