The LA Galaxy feel as if they’ve taken a step in the right direction as last week’s 0-0 draw with the Seattle Sounders at home stopped their five-game losing streak. But they’ll face another big test as they take on one of the other Cascadia clubs when they travel to Portland to take on the Timbers.
GAME INFO: Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy, Sunday, August 6, 2017, 11 a.m.
TV INFO: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
The Timbers (8-8-7) sit in fourth place in the Western Conference having taken 31 points from 23 games played. They’ve won just once in their last six games and had four draws and loss during that stretch. They last traveled to Houston where they took the lead twice but couldn’t keep the Dynamo from answering back each time finishing in a 2-2 draw.
But the Timbers will feel they should have had more points as an onside goal was waved off – costing them two more valuable road points.
The Galaxy (6-10-5) are simply looking to keep some momentum going. They sit in 9th place in the Western Conference – seven points out of a playoff spot – but still hold a couple of games in hand on most of the conference. And they’re just starting to see some of their injured players make their way back onto the field.
HOT IN PORTLAND
This game was originally scheduled for an 1 p.m. kickoff time, but because of an excessive heat warning throughout Portland and much of the Pacific Northwest, the game will be played two hours earlier at 11 a.m. The match will still be found on ESPN and will be another nationally televised game for the Galaxy.
With the heat, viewers should expect hydration breaks in each half. And it’s worth noting that the Timbers play on an artificial surface. That surface is usually significantly hotter than the air temperature.
The current forecast shows a high of 95°F with light winds at nine mph on Sunday. Hardly perfect conditions in which to play soccer.
The Galaxy will be without defenders Jelle Van Damme and Bradley Diallo who are both suspended for this match. Van Damme will miss two games (yellow card accumulation, and a red card) while Diallo will only miss the Portland game (yellow card accumulation).
Dave Romney is expected to slot into the defense after recovering from a hamstring issue that kept him out of the lineup last week.
In a last minute change, it looks as if new Designated Player Jonathan dos Santos did receive his P-1 visa late on Friday night, traveled from Mexico to Los Angeles, and did train with the club this morning. It’s now expected that he’ll travel with the club to Portland on Saturday afternoon where he’ll be available for selection for the 18-man roster.
Jonathan dos Santos will wear no. 8 which moves João Pedro to the no. 88. That means Pedro will now have a third number this year as he was originally scheduled to wear 58 before the start of the year but never actually wore the number. That was also during the time the Galaxy may have originally attempted to sign Jonathan dos Santos. So perhaps they were keeping that number open in that January time frame in case they signed him.
These two clubs have met a total of 17 times throughout their history with the Galaxy going 7-5-5 during that span. In recent history three of the last four games have been won by the away team with the Timbers securing a 1-0 victory at StubHub center earlier this year.
That game should drum up a lot of memories for the Galaxy fans as that was the game that Van Damme was ejected from after receiving two yellow cards for fouls against Timbers players, that were revealed to be a blatant simulation. The league, if you’ll remember, failed to rectify the situation with the Disciplinary Committee falling well short of their stated duty.
That won’t be the case in this game. Major League Soccer has instituted league-wide video review in the form of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). VAR will go into effect starting with the first games on August 5th and will be in operation for the Galaxy’s match against the Timbers on Sunday.
LA GALAXY LINEUP
The Galaxy are expected to have all players from last week available outside of the previously Diallo and Van Damme.
Pele Van Anholt, Daniels Steres, Romney, and Ashley Cole will help the back line in front of Brian Rowe in goal.
The midfield is likely to consist of the Galaxy’s leading goal scorer Romain Alessandrini, João Pedro, Jermaine Jones and Emmanuel Boateng.
Diego Valeri is one of the best midfielders in the league, and he’ll be the one attempting to control the midfield for the Timbers. He will distribute to Darlington Nagbe or Fanedno Adi and cause the Galaxy’s defense and backline to absorb that pressure. And if the Galaxy shift to block his passing lanes he’ll simply do it all himself.
Jones and Pedro will need to limit Valeri’s movement with the ball, and the rest of the Galaxy defense will need to take away the easy passing lanes for the rest of the dynamic Timbers offense.
With Van Damme out, both the Galaxy center backs will be under constant attack from Adi, and the Timbers will exploit the height and size matchup there.
In just his second game in charge for the Galaxy in 2017, Sigi Schmid will need to go against a familiar foe. The Cascadia Rivalry is a real living and breathing animal and no one knows that better than Schmid.
But his experience going against Portland when he coached the Sounders will be one the Galaxy are likely to capitalize on.
At this point, the 2017 Galaxy are tied for the second worst record through 21-games in club history. A climb out of the proverbial basement is important to ever fading playoff hopes. But if a turnaround is to start, this game might need to be one in which the club makes a statement.
With just 13-games remaining, time is simply slipping away from the Galaxy. And wins, no matter the venue or surface, need to start coming now!
8.5.2017, 12 p.m. – updated the story to include Jonathan dos Santos receiving his paperwork and being available for the game on Saturday.
8.5.2017, 12:20 p.m. – updated to included Jonathan dos Santos’ number.