With Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez looking to continue his scorching scoring pace Saturday afternoon, the LA Galaxy visit a Portland Timbers team that could be finding its form.
The Galaxy (4-1-0, 12 points) have won back-to-back matches and are in second place in the Western Conference. Chicharito has seven goals – two more than anyone else in the league – and has scored in four of his team’s five matches.
The Galaxy’s 12 points through five matches this season is their best start in a decade, dating to their 4-0-1, 13-point start to 2010.
The Timbers (2-3-0, 6 points) seem to have found their footing after stumbling out of the blocks. Portland’s participation in the CONCACAF Champions League tested its depth.
The Timbers encountered a stretch of five games in 16 days, and injuries to key players forced coach Gio Savarese to continually adjust his normal lineup.
But with their first full rest preceding a game in three weeks, the Timbers controlled the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday, and enter the game against the Galaxy fully rested.
“We needed three points and, especially with so many injuries that we have, this showed the mentality and the character of the team,” Savarese told The Oregonian after the 2-0 victory. “When the guys stepped on the field, they sacrificed to get this win.”
Yimmi Chara put the Timbers ahead just five minutes in, and emergency keeper Logan Ketterer stopped all-time MLS leading scorer Chris Wondolowski’s penalty kick in the 62nd minute. Ketterer earned a clean sheet after being acquired from lower-division El Paso Locomotive for his MLS debut.
Portland has won four of the last five meetings with the Galaxy, including the last two.
For the Galaxy, winning in Portland would validate their successful start to the season. Providence Park is always a tough place to play, although fan attendance is still limited due to the ongoing pandemic.
“We want to continue to work on ourselves defensively, become more difficult to play against, more difficult for teams to get into our half,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said. “I thought we did a nice job this past weekend (a 2-0 win over Austin FC) of really protecting our goal again and our box, but I would still want us to be a little bit more difficult for oppositions to get out of their half and into our half.”
–Field Level Media
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