The LA Galaxy fought for 90 minutes to snap the Portland Timbers’ six-game winning streak and walk away from a difficult road match one point richer on the season after a 1-1 draw at Providence Park on Saturday.
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid started with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench– even with striker Ola Kamara on international duty — therefore moving Pontius to the striker position. Emmanuel Boateng made his first start since April 8 (2-0 loss to Sporting KC) and slotted in easily at the left-wing position.
The Galaxy looked shaky to start the game with Bingham forced into several big saves with the first 20 minutes.
The Timbers’ Andrés Flores tested Bingham in the fourth minute when the Galaxy’s defense was caught too narrow. He dribbled into the box from the left-hand side and unleashed a low shot that Bingham was forced to save. He easily dove low and smothered the shot.
The Galaxy would then get their first look on goal when Boateng hit a low cross to Pontius who beat his defender to the ball and toe-poked it off the outside of the post, foreshadowing the events to come.
In the 20th-minute, Pontius would again receive a pass from Boateng after Boateng received one from Perry Kitchen. Boateng was then able to hold off some defenders before shuttling a pass between Larrys Mabiala and Bill Tuiloma. Pontius’ first touch wasn’t anywhere near perfect, but it worked for him and he was able to get a left-footed shot past the diving Jeff Attinella.
Diego Chara was next to test Bingham when a pass inside the box forced the Galaxy ‘keeper to push the ball to his right for a corner kick in the 22nd-minute.
The Galaxy would be forced to spring into action again when a 42nd-minute hiccup on the backline saw both Jorgen Skjelvik and Michael Ciani fail to clear the ball in front of Bingham – the arching pass from Sebastian Blanco looking for Diego Valeri.
But neither could get on the end of it and the ball fell to Samuel Armenteros who tried to push it past Bingham. Bingham’s big hands pushed the ball away and made a great save to keep the Galaxy up going into halftime.
The Timbers would find their equalizer, however, in the 56-minute.
That’s when Timbers midfielder Andres Flores stormed into the box causing Jorgen Skjelvik to shoulder him down into the penalty box. Referee Alan Kelly, who had a very easy night, pointed to the spot and awarded the penalty kick.
Valeri stepped up to take it and brought the home team level in the 57-minute.
With temperatures reaching above 80 degrees, and with Providence Park playing on artificial turf, the heat started to drain the quality of play.
Ibrahimovic and João Pedro would enter the match in the 72-minute for Boateng and Romain Alessandrini, and Ariel Lassiter would enter in the 84-minute for the goal scorer Pontius. The appearances marking the first of any significant playing time for Pedro this year (played 1-minute against Vancouver on March 24), and the second time Lassiter has seen the field for the Galaxy (65 minutes vs Vancouver on March 24).
The game wouldn’t have another goal in it, despite the Timbers forcing another save from Bingham in the 83-minute when Tuiloma headed a Fanendo Adi ball to the low corner. Bingham was there with the diving save and pushed it out for a corner.
The Galaxy got several good performances from Kitchen, Boateng, and most of the backline. And despite the disparity in shots on goal — 10 to 3 in favor of the home team — the Galaxy were able to keep the Timbers away from too many dangerous chances.
The club entered the match undefeated when scoring first and leading at the half, so it wasn’t all good news for the galaxy as they fell to 4-0-1 when scoring first and 2-0-1 when leading at the half.
But on a warm afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, Bingham showed why the Galaxy were so keen to sign him this offseason.