Caleb Porter tends to light up when the Portland Timbers are preparing to face the LA Galaxy.
In the same vein as squaring off against rivals the Seattle Sounders or Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy have all the factors that contribute to what Porter considers a real “soccer game” – namely an attacking style and highly respected head coach.
For the third time this season, Porter and the Timbers will meet the Galaxy and head coach Bruce Arena, in a nationally televised matinee Saturday afternoon at StubHub Center (2:30 pm ET; NBC, free stream on NBCSports.com, TSN in Canada) in a game between two surging Western Conference teams.
“We know it’s going to be a soccer game, and we like games like that,” Porter said at the team training facility before they departed for Southern California, where they trained Friday. “You know it’s going to come down to on the day the best team wins.”
The Timbers enter the game tied with the Seattle Sounders for the most goals in MLS with 35 and are on a two-game winning streak following a 2-1 home victory July 18 over the Colorado Rapids and a 3-2 decision away to the Montreal Impact on Sunday. And much like the Timbers, who dug an early season hole with just five points from their first eight games, the Galaxy are also rounding into form following early inconsistencies.
LA are coming off a 3-0 drubbing of the Western Conference leading Seattle Sounders on Monday night.
“They put a bit of a marker down on the league, beating Seattle 3-0,” Porter said. “They showed their quality, and it’s going to be a really tough test for us.”
Possibly contributing to the challenge is the possible absence of Darlington Nagbe, who sat out training Wednesday after coming out of the Impact game “beat up,” as Porter said. Nagbe, who recorded his fourth assist of the season when he set up the Timbers’ first goal against the Impact, was fouled six times on the afternoon.
“He got fouled a lot and beat up a lot,” said Porter, who also noted he’s been hit with a league-leading 67 times, 16 more than second on the list. “He’s banged up, didn’t train today, and it’s unfortunate.”
- Get the latest PTFC news at Timbers.com
Portland will also be going for a franchise-first three-game winning streak. And with the Galaxy currently sitting in a three-way tie for the fifth and final MLS Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference standings, just three points clear of the seventh-placed Timbers, the implications for Saturday’s matchup speak for themselves.
“It just means a lot because anytime you can win consecutive games in a row, especially when you can start adding them up, two, three, four in a row, you can move up the standings real quick,” defender Jack Jewsbury said. “And obviously with the slow start we had, we’re going to need that to get back in the race. So it feels good to get a couple, and yeah, three would be great.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.