Timbers look to turn season around against struggling LA
PORTLAND, Ore. – Not many would have guessed at the start of the season that Saturday’s matchup between the Portland Timbers and the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m. PT, KPDX, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940 AM - Timbers Television Network) would feature the two teams bringing up the rear of the Western Conference. But that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
The reigning champion Galaxy are in last place in the conference with a 1-3-0 record. The Timbers, with a 1-3-1 record, are just one point above, despite several high-profile acquisitions during the offseason.
“I think this is a very inconsistent league at times,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “There are a lot of shocks and surprises week in and week out. And that’s what parity is all about. Teams can beat any team on any given day.”
Portland have lost their last three games, including back-to-back defeats at home in which they relinquished a lead. LA, meanwhile, have lost their last two, including a 3-1 rout at the hands of the New England Revolution at the HDC.
“We know they’re going to be trying to get things back together, just as we are,” Timbers midfielder and captain Jack Jewsbury said. “So we know it’s going to be a tough game on the road.”
The Timbers famously ended a 14-game unbeaten streak by the Galaxy in 2011, routing LA 3-0 at JELD-WEN Field and ending a dry spell of one win in their last 10 games.
Though that win vaulted them into contention for the playoffs, Portland eventually missed out on a postseason berth, while LA went on to win the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.
“I don’t think that would have been too much of a blip in Bruce Arena’s memory bank,” Spencer said of last season’s win. “For us, as a new franchise, it was a big day for us.”
And Spencer is hoping that a win on Saturday might give the club a similar boost.
“There will come a time in the season where we will look back on this month and say my god that was a [bad] month, how down we were, how frustrated the way the results and the games went for us,” Spencer said. “We’ll be in a better position, that I do know.”
The Timbers will likely have two players back to full health to help in that task. Defender Hanyer Mosquera has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion and fractured eye socket March 24 against New England. Midfielder Franck Songo’o, who has yet to play a full 90 minutes after a preseason injury that forced him to miss Portland’s first two games, is continuing his progression to full fitness.
“He’s starting to take really giant steps forward,” Spencer said of Songo’o. “The more we get him on the field, the better we will become.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.