LA Galaxy will provide the perfect test for the Portland Timbers

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Portland Timbers
CINCINNATI, OH — MARCH 17: Diego Valeri #8 of Portland Timbers and Victor Ulloa #8 of FC Cincinnati battle for control of the ball at Nippert Stadium on March 17, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Los Angeles, California (March 28, 2019) — A struggling Portland Timbers side has the perfect opportunity to bounce back against the LA Galaxy on Sunday night — as long as they hold up defensively.

It is no secret that the Portland Timbers have had a rough start to 2019.

LA Galaxy will provide the perfect test for the Portland Timbers

Outside of a few solid periods in the past three matches, there hasn’t been much to be positive about. The Timbers don’t have a home game for another two and a half months. They have let in 10 goals in the past three games. However, they showed they can score against the Colorado Rapids. Since then, the Timbers have struggled to generate going forward.

However, this weekend’s contest against the LA Galaxy could be the game the Timbers finally grab three points.

Defensive Woes

Two of the Galaxy’s most important players going forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini, started full training with the team again this past Tuesday.

Though it’s unknown how much of a role they will play Sunday night, Portland will have a tough time dealing with them if they do feature. With Larrys Mabiala suspended due to a red card he received against Cincinnati, fans should expect to see Julio Cascante and Claude Dielna paired at center back together.

They have struggled so far this season, with Cascante against Colorado and LAFC and Dielna against Cincinnati. Keeping that in mind, they have had two weeks to prepare. The Timbers also regain Diego Chara, having him back after a one-game suspension.

All they have to do is minimize the damage. The way Portland could beat the Galaxy is by outscoring them.

Taking the Midfield

Coming into this season one of the major talking points was how strong the Timbers front four was going to be. Even as the FO pushed for a DP striker, the forward combination of Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, Andy Polo and Jeremy Ebobisse was going to turn in goals.

After a failed experiment two weeks ago with starting Lucas Melano up top, it seems like head coach Giovanni Savarese needs to go back to his original front four. Meanwhile, with a few tweaks against this Galaxy side, he should expect goals.

This will happen if Valeri stays high on the pitch. The Argentine is a very talented player and can control a game completely on his own. However, in order for him to stay the attacking threat he can be, he needs to push forward. And in order for this to happen, Chara and David Guzman need to control the midfield to a point where Valeri doesn’t need to come back deep to receive the ball. This means Guzman and Chara have to limit the influence of Sebastian Lleget and Joe Corona in their forward movements.

If the Timbers can dominate the midfield and then overwhelm Jonathan dos Santos with Blanco, Valeri and Polo’s movements, then their attack can flourish. And if the backline can minimize damage, then Portland can outshoot their opponents in what will be a potentially thrilling game.

 

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