KeyBank Scouting Report Matchday Preview | LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers | Aug. 2, 2014

Timbers take on Galaxy in nationally televised showdown on NBC Saturday

LA GALAXY vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
STUBHUB CENTER, Carson, Calif.
Aug. 2, 2014 (WEEK 21, MLS Game #194)
11:30 a.m. PT (NBC; TSN; FREE stream on NBCSports.com)

One of the marquee matches of the 2014 season is ahead when the LA Galaxy play host to the Portland Timbers on Saturday at StubHub Center before an NBC audience. The Galaxy returned to their recent outstanding form on Monday night with an impressive 3-0 victory at Seattle Sounders FC. The Timbers remain on the road following a second consecutive victory, winning 3-2 at the Montreal Impact last weekend. It’s the third meeting of the year between the Western Conference foes, the previous two ending in draws.

PORTLAND TIMBERS

The Portland Timbers took their second consecutive come-from-behind win, getting a late goal for a 3-2 win against the Montreal Impact on Sunday evening at Stade Saputo. The Timbers are in seventh place in the Western Conference with 27 points from 21 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Impact took the lead after just the 13th minute. Justin Mapp's low cross from the right found Andres Romero, who turned around a defender and beat Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to his right.
     
  • But the visitors were level by the 34th minute. Darlington Nagbe held the ball on the edge of the box before slipping it through to Maximiliano Urruti, and he toe poked it onto the near post and past goalkeeper Evan Bush.
     
  • Portland went ahead five minutes later. Impact defender Hassoun Camara brought down Diego Valeri on the right of the Montreal goal, and referee Silviu Petrescu pointed to the spot. Will Johnson slotted home the resulting penalty kick low past Bush, who guessed correctly by diving to his right despite being beaten.
     
  • But Montreal made it 2-2 just before halftime. Patrice Bernier, released down the left by Felipe, cut the ball back to Maxim Tissot, who produced a good finish with his left foot from inside the penalty area.
     
  • Yet there was one final answer from the Timbers. Substitute Rodney Wallace raced down the left, but saw his cross partially cleared by Futty Danso. The ball went as far as Valeri, who calmly stuck the dagger into the Montreal hearts with a curling effort from just outside the box.
     
  • Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids at Providence Park Gastón Fernández and Maximiliano Urruti came into the team, replacing Steve Zakuani and Fanendo Adi.
     
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Jack Jewsbury, Danny O'Rourke, Liam Ridgewell, Michael Harrington - Will Johnson, Diego Chara (Rodney Wallace 79) - Diego Valeri, Gastón Fernández (Ben Zemanski 86), Darlington Nagbe - Maximiliano Urruti (Fanendo Adi 72).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Timbers have won back-to-back games for the second time this season, also winning consecutive games May 24-28 (both away wins, at New York and Chivas USA).
     
  • “This team – they’ve been through a lot this year, and we never quit and we’ve kept fighting and grinding,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. “Because of what we’ve been through, we are one of the most mentally tough teams in MLS right now because we’ve had to do it the hard way.”
     
  • For the second consecutive week, Diego Valeri scored a late game-winner, this time netting in the 82nd minute. Three of Valeri’s five goals have come in the 77th minute or later to give the Timbers points.
     
  • “For us, this was three points or bust,” Porter said. “It’s one of those games where you’re not playing a conference team where it’s a six-point swing, where you try to win those games, but if it looks like you can’t win, then you don’t lose because at least you hold the points.”
     
  • Maximiliano Urruti made his first league start since June 1, scoring his team-leading eighth goal of the season, his second in as many matches. Six of his eight goals have come when he is in the first XI.
     
  • “We’re going to gamble in these non-conference games, even if it means risking a loss, we’re going to go for it. We took out a [defensive midfielder] the last 10 minutes, and played with two attacking mids, got a little bit more adventurous, and I thought it was the key to getting the winning goal,” Porter said.
     
  • Will Johnson converted a penalty kick, his third goal in the last seven matches, all coming from the spot.
     
  • Gastón Fernández returned to the starting lineup after a two-game absence, his first start since the July 4 match vs. the LA Galaxy.
     
  • “Figuring out the balance in a soccer game is always a key to winning. You set your team up to defend and you’ll be in every game but you probably won’t win many. If you set your team up to create and you don’t have balance, then you might create chances but you’re probably going to give up goals,” Porter said. “There have been some games we haven’t gotten the balance right between the two sides of the coin, the attacking and defending, but I thought overall even in the first half where we gave up two goals, I thought we were the better team; we were controlling the game.”
     
  • Jack Jewsbury made a second consecutive start at fullback, the 300th appearance of his MLS league career. He joins a list of 25 other players to have reached 300 MLS games.
     
  • “He’s in an elite group of guys. There’s not many, 25, that have played 300 games in league history. What’s nice is it’s a win. If we lose that game, I don’t think he cares if it’s his 300th game,” said Porter. “When you make it a win, then now it becomes more memorable and he’ll remember the 300th game because we won the game on the road.”

LA GALAXY

The LA Galaxy returned to their winning ways in impressive fashion, rolling to a 3-1 win against Seattle Sounders FC on Monday evening at CenturyLink Field. The Galaxy sit in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 30 points from 18 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy took the lead in just the eighth minute. Landon Donovan was freed behind the Seattle defense and put in a low centering pass that Gyasi Zardes slotted home past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei from the heart of the penalty area.
     
  • The Galaxy lead was doubled just 10 minutes later when midfielder Marcelo Sarvas blasted a shot that defected off Frei and landed directly in front of a wide-open Donovan, who tapped home the rebound.
     
  • It was 3-0 by the 36th minute. Stefan Ishizaki added the exclamation point, slamming home a feed from Sarvas after finding himself isolated on the right side of the Seattle defense, pushing the margin to the halftime lead that would hold up as the final score.
     
  • Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made four changes to the team that fell 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park. Dan Gargan, Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Rogers all came into the back four, replacing Tommy Meyer, Kofi Opare and Leonardo, and Stefan Ishizaki started in midfield in place of Baggio Husidic.
     
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Jaime Penedo - Dan Gargan, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers - Stefan Ishizaki, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Baggio Husidic 78), Landon Donovan - Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes (Kenney Walker 90).

TEAM NEWS

  • It was the sixth victory in the last 10 games for the Galaxy, who have lost just once in that span dating back to May 21. Following a 1-0 loss at Houston on May 17, the Galaxy were in ninth place in the Western Conference; the win in Seattle moved them into a tie for third place with FC Dallas and Colorado.
     
  • “The way we played from start to finish, I thought was magnificent,” Robbie Keane said. “Certainly, I think, our best performance all season. ... For me, this is the Galaxy of old. In the way we played, the shape that we played, the passing and the movement. The movement of the front four in the first half was the best in a long time.”
     
  • Gyasi Zardes scored his seventh goal of the season, his sixth in the last seven minutes since he was installed into the starting lineup on June 8.
     
  • Landon Donovan played a part in all three goals. He scored his fourth goal of the season, his first since June 1, and now has 138 league goals for his MLS career, the all-time leader.
     
  • Donovan also assisted on a pair of goals, and now has 123 for his league career, just 12 behind all-time record holder Steve Ralston. It was the 26th time in Donovan’s career he had multiple assists in a game; he is already the MLS all-time leader with 31 multiple-goal games.
     
  • Stefan Ishikazi returned to the starting lineup after a one-match absence, playing in a wide attacking midfield role along with Donovan.
     
  • “We had been playing in a diamond, which puts a lot more numbers centrally,” Donovan said. “This week it was pretty straightforward. You were playing against one guy, and at the end of the night, you want to look at our lineup and theirs and say who won each matchup. And I think tonight there's at least nine or 10 checkmarks in our column, probably 11, and that was important. We were able to open the field, we moved well, we passed well, and when we do that, we create a lot of chances.”
     
  • Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho serving as deep-lying central midfielders, with Sarvas recording a pair of assists, the second time in his MLS career he’s had two assists in a game (previously: Sept, 14, 2012 vs. Colorado).
     
  • “Marcelo was excellent. He has a little more freedom when [Juninho] is in there to roam forward and there was a lot of space in the midfield. I think those two completely overran [Osvaldo] Alonso and [Gonzalo] Pineda and I think they were excellent in there,” said Donovan. “When you take control of the midfield like that, it helps you get control of the game. They were excellent. When we won the ball, they went forward, Marcelo went forward, he got some shots off, some good passes, and it was a good night for him.”
     
  • Said Robbie Keane: “We tried a different system the start of the season. Did it work? I'm not too sure. But I certainly think the system we played here tonight, I think it probably suited every player -- to get the best of every player, not just a few players.”
     
  • Omar Gonzalez made his first league start since May 3, returning to the lineup for the first time after returning from the FIFA World Cup and the U.S. national team while carrying an injury.
     
  • “That [shutout] meant everything to us. There was a couple of times when even Robbie [Keane] and Landon [Donovan] were saying ‘we donít give up a goal.’ And that just goes to show how committed we were to really making a statement and showing that this is the second half of the season and we’re ready,” said Gonzalez. “And so we were up 3-0, but we didn’t want to give any goals.”

REFEREE: Kevin Stott. AR1 (bench): Brian Poeschel; AR2 (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
MLS Career: 252 games; FC/gm: 25.5; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 61; pens: 61

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA: Dan Gargan … POR: Pa Modou Kah
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: LA: Landon Donovan … POR: Norbetto Paparetto, Will Johnson
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (10 meetings): Galaxy 4 wins, 16 goals … Timbers 3 wins, 13 goals … Ties 3
AT LA (5 meetings): Galaxy 3 wins, 9 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 3 goals … Ties 2

2014 (MLS)
5/11: POR 1, LA 1 (Valeri 95+ -- Keane 92+)
7/4: LA 2, POR 2 (Sarvas 65; own goal 86 – Valeri 67; Villafana 70)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, having drawn twice. On May 11, Robbie Keane scored in stoppage time, but Diego Valeri scored even later, leaving the teams with a 1-1 tie at Providence Park. On July 4, an own goal in the 86th minute gave the Galaxy the equalizer in a 2-2 draw at StubHub Center.
  • The Galaxy have never lost to the Timbers in Carson, winning the first three meetings there all-time before the teams played to draws in each of the last two matches.
  • Coaches record: Caleb Porter vs. LA: P5 W2 L0 D3 … Bruce Arena vs. POR: P10 W4 L3 D3

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • The Galaxy finally broke through in the 65th minute. After collecting a half-cleared cross, Landon Donovan, just above the box, played a little pass to Marcelo Sarvas, who took the ball into the area then fired past three defenders and a screened Donovan Ricketts inside the far-post netting.
  • But the Timbers were level just two minutes later. Jorge Villafana sent in a cross from the left wing, but Fanendo Adi's header bounced off a defender and rolled out toward the top of the box. Diego Valeri raced in and pounded the ball home inside the far post.
  • Portland then went ahead in the 70th minute. Villafana sent in a low cross which was not cleared, and Valeri again picked up the ball at the top of the box. His shot was blocked by a defender, but the ball rolled to Villafana on the left side of the area, and he beat goalkeeper Jaime Penedo to the near post.
  • But the Galaxy scored the equalizer through some good fortune. Donovan chipped the ball into the box for Baggio Husidic, to the left of the net. He sent a ball into the middle toward a pair of advancing teammates, but it hit a retreating Rauwshan McKenzie and rolled into the net.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Jaime Penedo - Dan Gargan, Tommy Meyer, A.J. DeLaGarza (Rob Friend 82), Robbie Rogers - Stefan Ishizaki (Baggio Husidic 71), Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Chandler Hoffman 90), Landon Donovan - Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane.
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-1-2-3): Donovan Ricketts - Michael Harrington, Danny O'Rourke, Rauwshan McKenzie, Jorge Villafana - Will Johnson - Diego Valeri (Jack Jewsbury 90), Diego Chara - Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan 82), Fanendo Adi, Gaston Fernandez (Rodney Wallace 74).