Jonathan dos Santos will not be on the field when the LA Galaxy meet the Portland Timbers in both teams opening MLS is Back Tournament match Monday (10:30 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, TSN, TVAS). But the Timbers know all too well than to overlook the Galaxy ahead of their anticipated Group F showdown.
“That is a very important component of their team, nevertheless they still have a lot of players that are difficult, that are strong, that individually can change the game at any moment,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "So we prepare accordingly.”
While one Mexican International is out of the fold, another is at the nucleus of the Galaxy attack in Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
“I think being focused all the time because you know Chicharito is a player who is looking for the space to score goals,” Diego Chara said when asked about trying to stop Mexico's all-time leading scorer. "On the back side we have to be smart, be focused for 90 minutes.”
“I think it’s a good challenge for us,” Diego Valeri said. "They have been always a challenge and they are a big team. I expect them to come with a lot of pressure, trying to use a lot Pavon and Chicharito and trying to explore their best qualities. They have a very good coaching staff too, and we know each other very well so it’s going to be a very tight game.”
While the MLS is Back Tournament is unique to everyone involved, Savarese believes the collective experience his team should benefit them.
“It is something that is very unfamiliar, but nonetheless our guys, the majority have experience, the new guys, some of them have played for their national team so they have certain competitions that are similar to this type of competition,” Savarese said. “The most important thing is to arrive to the first game, to understand how important it is, to make sure we play in the way we have planned to in order to hope that we can get the result that they want. If we start with a victory, that will carry on and help you through [to the next game], which you have to treat after as the most important. Right now, we focus on this match against this difficult team and that’s been in the mind of everyone.”