Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy
2017 MLS Regular Season - Week 22
Providence Park - Portland, Ore.
Sunday – 2 pm ET
WATCH: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, MLS LIVE in Canada
First, the Portland Timbers overcame a severely depleted roster to grind out an away win in Vancouver. Then they nearly snuck out of one of the toughest MLS road environments with three points before settling for a still-impressive draw in Houston.
The next challenge for coach Caleb Porter's men? Brunch.
Bottomless fruit cocktail jokes aside, conditions will be difficult for everyone when the Timbers face the LA Galaxy in a morning kickoff local time, after a decision to move the start ahead two hours due to expected extreme heat that will only be amplified by Providence Park's artificial pitch.
That's the second time the Timbers have seen a home kickoff time altered. But for neutrals, the previous one provided arguably the best moment of the first half of the season, so maybe there's more drama to come as the Timbers attempt to hold onto their spot above the playoff line and the Galaxy try to begin a climb toward it.
If nothing else, Portland's recent Texas trip will leave the Timbers with a sense of what it takes to earn a result in sweltering conditions.
The Timbers were nine minutes away from becoming the first team to win in 2017 at BBVA Compass Stadium last Saturday, and perhaps would've done so had a disputed offsides call not taken a third goal off the board early in the second half.
Portland continues to go as Diego Valeri goes, and he keeps churning out production in what may end up his best MLS season yet. After a goal and an assist against the Dynamo, the Argentine is a hat trick away from his career high of 14 MLS goals set a season ago, and six off the 14 assists he contributed in 2014.
Fellow countryman Sebastian Blanco now has two goals and three assists in his last five games as he acclimates to his first season in the league and attempts to become the second most-well known Sebastian in the league behind some guy in Toronto.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: D Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles tear), D Marco Farfan (ankle), D Chance Myers (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: D Liam Ridgewell (quad), D Amobi Okugo (knee), M Dairon Asprilla (ankle), D Vytas (calf), F Darren Mattocks (shoulder)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Jake Gleeson – Roy Miller, Lawrence Olum, Larrys Mabiala, Zarek Valentin – David Guzman, Diego Chara – Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe – Fanendo Adi
Notes: Portland is looking to avoid its first four-game winless stretch at home since August 21 to October 3, 2015 (2L-2D). ... Blanco has seven goals+assists across his last eight MLS games after posting just three in his first 14 MLS appearances.
A scoreless draw against the Seattle Sounders last weekend was a marked improvement in coach Sigi Schmid's first game back at the helm of the Galaxy, but to really make the home stretch interesting his team will have to rediscover some of the blistering road form of earlier this year.
The Galaxy finished their season-long four-game spring road trip with 10 points out of 12, and with five away victories still have the most of any MLS side. They've cooled off lately though, falling 2-1 at San Jose and 4-3 two weekends ago at New England during what was overall a five-match losing skid.
Complicating it all, Schmid is charged with engineering a turnaround in a job that -- right now, anyway -- is part traffic cop, part salesman.
Jonathan dos Santos is the latest Galaxy addition, and defender Jelle Van Damme might be the next departure. And the pressure to win and win with style in Carson is as high as ever with Los Angeles FC making more and more noise as they approach their inaugural campaign next season.
- Suspended: D Jelle Van Damme, D Bradley Diallo
- International duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: D Dave Romney (hamstring), M Baggio Husidic (fractured fibula), M Sebastian Lletget (foot surgery), D Robbie Rogers (ankle injury), GK Clement Diop (hand)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Brian Rowe – Ashley Cole, Daniel Steres, Hugo Arrellano, Pele van Anholt – Jermaine Jones, Joao Pedro – Emmanuel Boateng, Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini – Gyasi Zardes
Notes: The Galaxy are looking to avoid their first three-game away losing streak since June 29 to July 27, 2013. ... LA are currently conceding an average of 1.8 goals per game. Since to the 2010 regular season, they have never played a full season in which they conceded more than 1.4 goals per game.
The Galaxy have had the better of things, though Portland won the teams' opener 1-0 at the StubHub Center on March 12
- Overall: Timbers 5 wins (24 goals) … Galaxy 7 wins (31 goals) … 5 draws
- In Portland: Timbers 3 wins (13 goals) ... Galaxy 2 wins (11 goals) … 2 draws
Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Mike Rottersman
Fourth Official: Mark Kadlecik
Video Assistant Referee: Dave Gantar