CARSON, Calif. – Neither the LA Galaxy nor the Portland Timbers could find any sustained pressure Wednesday night, and the result was a hard-fought, but ultimately fruitless 0-0 draw at the newly christened StubHub Center.
Sean Franklin hit the right post with a bouncing header and Timbers center back Pa-Modou Kah made three big stops to deny Landon Donovan opportunities as Portland (6-1-9), posting their third shutout in their last four matches, extended their unbeaten streak to 14 games and road unbeaten streak to 10.
The Galaxy (6-6-3) had conceded eight goals in the past two games, ugly losses at New England and Real Salt Lake, but they conceded very little to the Timbers, who found paths to LA's box but rarely got past a tight backline anchored by A.J. DeLaGarza.
The game featured impressive ball movement between the boxes but few distinct chances to score. The Galaxy's best were thwarted by Kah, who stopped Donovan three times in the first half from Robbie Keane through balls; by Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who cleared a Gyasi Zardes cross aimed for Keane in the goalmouth with 15 minutes to go; and by former LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who slapped away a Colin Clark shot in the 77th minute.
The Galaxy possessed nicely through midfield in the first half but struggled to penetrate, even with Keane's return to the lineup. Portland created even less but twice tested Carlo Cudicini, most potently with a 30-yard Darlington Nagbe blast in the 31st minute that LA's Italian keeper parried.
Robbie Rogers received his first start for the Galaxy, starting on the left flank but swapping spots with left-sided midfielder Zardes late in the first half. He lasted until the 69th minute, his longest stint since joining LA last month.
Portland coach Caleb Porter made a few changes for middle match of a three-games-in-nine-days stint, and dropped his backline deeper to prevent LA from playing over the top and into runs from Donovan, Keane and Zardes. It was largely effective, though the Timbers did come away with a concern as starting left back Michael Harrington was taken off on a stretcher after a collision with Ben Zemanski.
The Galaxy will be visitors against Chivas USA on Sunday. Portland are home Sunday against the Colorado Rapids.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||A.J. DeLaGarza||Did not put a foot wrong all night, and other than some guy named "Nesta" is probably the smartest central defender in the league.|
|2||Donovan Ricketts||The nightmare of 2012 is long, long gone. This was far from his most spectacular outing, but everyone in green will be happy with the zero.|
|3||Andrew Jean-Baptiste||Coming into his own, game by game. His physical traits are without question, and his reading of the game has improved tremendously. And he's totally unafraid of big moments.|