Matchday Preview | Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy - September 29, 2013
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs LA GALAXY
JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Ore.
Sept. 29, 2013 (WEEK 31, MLS Game #285)
12:30 p.m. PT (NBC, 750 The Game / La Pantera 940)
A massive contest in the Western Conference playoff chase is ahead on Sunday afternoon before an NBC national network audience as the Portland Timbers play host to the LA Galaxy. The teams come into the match holding spots in the top five in the conference, the Timbers a point ahead of the Galaxy, in third and a tie for fourth respectively. The Timbers are unbeaten in their last three following a 1-0 home win vs. Colorado, while the Galaxy are winless in their last three after a 1-1 home draw with Seattle last weekend.
The Portland Timbers extended their undefeated run to three matches, getting the game’s lone goal for a victory against the Colorado Rapids on Friday evening at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers are in third place in the Western Conference with 46 points from 29 matches.
The game's lone goal came in the 13th minute. A poor clearance was deflected right to Diego Valeri, and from outside the area he put a perfectly placed chip over Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts had to make just a solitary save in keeping the clean sheet.
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made four changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at StubHub Center. Jack Jewsbury and Mamadou "Futty" Danso came into the back four for Sal Zizzo and Andrew Jean-Baptiste, and Diego Valeri and Maximiliano Urruti entered the team in place of Kalif Alhassan and Jose Valencia.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Jack Jewsbury, Pa Modou Kah, Mamadou Danso, Michael Harrington - Diego Chara, Will Johnson - Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski 90), Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan 73), Rodney Wallace - Maximiliano Urruti (Ryan Johnson 61)
The Timbers extended their undefeated run to three games, with two wins and a draw, following back-to-back losses.
“What's happened is that we go from a team last year that doesn't have belief and is probably nervous and has a bit of fear to now, a team after we go on a run … 15 games unbeaten … we're probably overconfident,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “That's burned us a few times. It's now getting back to being right in that zone where we need to be which is confidence with a little bit of tension.”
The Timbers also kept a clean sheet for the second time in three games, after going six games without a shutout and also following a stretch of three contests where they allowed a total of eight goals.
“They didn’t have very many clear looks, and I thought a big part of that was the ability of our backs, especially in box defending, the ability to win second ball, the ability to track guys,” Porter said. “These are all things that, again, three or four games ago we couldn’t make those plays.”
Diego Valeri has netted the last three goals the Portland Timbers have scored, over the last three games, after hitting for the only goal in the victory against the Colorado Rapids on Friday evening.
“Diego has been a revelation with this club. I love playing with the guy, and it must be a real treat for the city of Portland to watch this guy; he’s special,” said Will Johnson. “I could stand here all night and bore you to death with the kind of things to say about Valeri. He’s special, but he’s so humble it’s ridiculous for as good he is, so we’re fortunate to have him.”
After missing three consecutive games, and five of the previous six, with an ankle sprain, Jack Jewsbury returned to the Timbers back four.
“During this time of year experience does help to a certain extent. We’ve been pretty solid for the most part in our final four, we just wanted to tighten it up a little more,” Jewsbury said. “We knew today was going to be a fairly direct game and a battle for first and second balls.”
The Timbers also had Mamadou “Futty” Danso back in central defense for the first time since July 13 – the last time Portland faced the LA Galaxy – as he returned from a broken foot.
“Especially in the back, we went with some of our old guards with Futty and Jack,” Porter said. “These guys have been professionals for quite some time. They have some experience to them, some maturity to them, they’re comfortable in a Timbers uniform. I thought those two guys, along with the other two backs and [goalkeeper Donovan] Ricketts, really showed very well.”
Less than two weeks after being acquired from Toronto FC, having made one appearance as a substitute, Maximiliano Urruti started as the spearhead striker.
- “It's the little things he does well, he fits into our team, our system. A big part of what we're looking for out of the individuals is what they do individually, but more importantly we want them to be able to execute the way we want to play and help make the players around them better,” said Porter.
The LA Galaxy saw their winless run reach three games with a second consecutive draw, reaching a 1-1 result with Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. The Galaxy are in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with 45 points from 29 matches.
Sounders FC took the lead in the 25th minute. Eddie Johnson lost his marker on his run from the top of the box and was alone just above the 6-yard box to powerfully head home Mauro Rosales' corner kick from the right.
The Galaxy pulled even on the final touch of the half, after Seattle defender Zach Scott picked up a yellow card for tripping Jose Villarreal just above the restraining arc. Juninho curled the ball inside the left post with the resulting free kick.
Sounders FC finished a man down after Scott was sent off for his second yellow deep in stoppage time, but the Galaxy could not take advantage.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two changes to the team that was pegged back into a late 2-2 draw with D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Sean Franklin came in at right back for A.J. DeLaGarza, and Jose Villarreal started up top in place of Landon Donovan.
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Jaime Penedo - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo (Michael Stephens 90), Todd Dunivant - Hector Jimenez (Laurent Courtois 76), Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Gyasi Zardes - Robbie Keane, Jose Villarreal (Jack McBean 81).
The LA Galaxy saw their league winless streak extended to three games – matching the longest of the MLS season for the defending champions following the draw with Seattle.
“They played us hard. They fouled us a lot, obviously they had a player sent off because of that, but he did a good job,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “We just weren't good enough in the final third of the field with the final pass or our look at the goal and it made a difference in the game.”
Juninho scored his first goal since last Sept. 22 – when he netted a brace vs. Toronto FC – in scoring the lone Galaxy goal. It was his second goal directly from a free kick in MLS -- his first coming in the first goal vs. Toronto, when he last scored.
"We have been waiting all year. It is probably his first goal of the year,” said Arena. “On the night, we had a couple of good looks at the goal and we didn't force their ‘keeper into making a whole lot of saves. I don't know what the statistics say, but the final product on the night for us was poor.”
Said Todd Dunivant: “We needed that. It was timely, it was at the end of the half and it was a beautiful free kick. He’s been working on it so much in practice and we see him hit them all the time in practice it was only a matter time before he put one in and tonight he put in a beauty.”
With Landon Donovan sidelined with a sprained ankle after being forced off at halftime of the D.C. United match, Jose Villarreal partnered Robbie Keane in attack.
“Jose did a good job, he is still a young player, playing against a team with experienced players in the back obviously,” said Arena.
With A.J. DeLaGarza out with an elbow dislocation, Sean Franklin started in the back four for the first time since July 27. His last three starts had come on the right of midfield.
“We are moving along. It was another good performance from us, limiting their chances, again, really good. There was a little bit of a confusion on that set piece that left Johnson free, but other than that we defended well and didn’t give them anything,” Dunivant said.
On Wednesday, the Galaxy qualified for the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League with their third victory in three group matches, a 3-0 defeat of CS Cartagines in Costa Rica. Jack McBean, Chandler Hoffman and Laurent Courtois scored first-half goals to send the Galaxy on their way.
- Here's the Galaxy team: Brian Rowe; Oscar Sorto, Tommy Meyer, Pablo Mastroeni, Greg Cochrane; Rafael Garcia, Michael Stephens, Laurent Courtois (Marcelo Sarvas 77), Colin Clark (Gyasi Zardes 82); Chandler Hoffman, Jack McBean (Jose Villarreal 90).
REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. AR1 (bench): Eric Boria; AR2 (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 21 games; FC/gm: 24.6; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 6; pens: 7
DISABLED LIST: POR: Mikael Silvestre (season-ending injury); Ryan Miller (season-ending injury); Brent Richards (season-ending injury)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR: Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Will Johnson, Ben Zemanski ... LA: Juninho
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Diego Chara, Rodney Wallace ... LA: A.J. DeLaGarza, Marcelo Sarvas, Sean Franklin
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Timbers 2 wins, 9 goals … Galaxy 4 wins, 13 goals … Ties 1
AT PORTLAND (4 meetings): Timbers 2 wins, 8 goals … Galaxy 1 win, 6 goals … Ties 0
6/19: LA 0, POR 0
7/13: POR 2, LA 1 (R. Johnson 27; Jean-Baptiste 94+ - Sarvas 17)
- The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Andrew Jean-Baptiste scored deep into second-half stoppage time to give the Timbers a 2-1 victory July 13 at Jeld-Wen Field. The teams reached a scoreless draw June 19 at StubHub Center.
- The win in the last meeting was just the second for Portland in seven meetings all-time between the teams. The Galaxy are 3-0-1 all-time in the series in Carson, having outscored the Timbers 7-1.
- Coaches record: Caleb Porter vs. LA: P2 W1 L0 D1 … Bruce Arena vs. POR: P7 W4 L2 D1
LAST MEETING (MLS)
- The Galaxy broke through first, in the 17th minute. Hector Jimenez perfectly placed a cross from the right wing and Marcelo Sarvas was left alone in the box to head home with ease.
- Portland answered back 10 minutes later. From a free kick just outside the Galaxy box, Diego Valeri took the restart quickly and fed a charging Darlington Nagbe, who rolled a cross to Ryan Johnson for an open-net goal.
- The game-winner came just before the final whistle when Andrew Jean-Baptiste powered his way into the box to get on the end of a Valeri corner kick.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Jack Jewsbury, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Mamadou Danso, Michael Harrington - Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski - Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe (Sal Zizzo 90), Kalif Alhassan (Frederic Piquionne 60) - Ryan Johnson (Jose Adolfo Valencia 85).
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Carlo Cudicini - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Hector Jimenez (Jose Villarreal 75), Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Robbie Rogers (Colin Clark 70) - Robbie Keane (Jack McBean 79), Gyasi Zardes.