ORLANDO, Fla. – LA Galaxy took on Portland Timbers FC in their first game of Group F in the MLS is Back tournament. Expectations were high for both teams with all eyes on Diego Valeri and Chicharito Hernandez, who had not scored in MLS play coming into the match. It was Sebastian Blanco who ruled the night though.
Sebastian Blanco Punishes LA Galaxy
The first half wasn’t the sharpest from either team, as expected. Portland was the better team to start, playing very direct. The Galaxy backline was able to deal with the pressure.
Their best chance came nine minutes in on a free-kick. Valeri delivered a perfect ball that dropped near the back post. Eryk Williamson couldn’t get to it though and the ball bounced out for a goal kick.
Two minutes later, the Galaxy got a penalty as Dario Zuparic blocked a shot from Cristian Pavon with his arms in the box on a counter-attack. Hernandez stepped up to take it but goalkeeper Steve Clark guessed right and made the save. Sacha Kljestian was the first to the rebound but Clark saved that as well.
The half ended 0-0.
The game opened up in the second half with Jeremy Ebobisse scoring in the 59th minute. Sebastian Blanco got the ball on the touchline off a deflection that drew goalkeeper David Bingham off his line. Blanco threaded a pass through four Galaxy players to find Ebobisse right in front of goal.
Blanco punished the Galaxy in the 66th minute. Off a deflected shot, he ran the ball down and got in front of gdoal with no pressure to blast the ball past Bingham and into the back of the net.
Struggles continue for Chicharito: Hernandez finally got his first goal for the Galaxy. However, the team continues to be predictable offensively in their service to him. It hasn’t been effective and Chicharito hasn’t done anything with the chances he’s gotten, including the PK that Steve Clark stuffed early on in the match.
Timbers on same page: Portland’s passing was clinical and they were in sync most of the game offensively. It helped them get the ball into dangerous situations inside the box on both goals. Sebastian Blanco was fantastic.
Opportunity knocks: LAFC dropped points in drawing Houston Dynamo prior to this game. With Houston next on the schedule, Portland have a massive opportunity to clinch a birth in the knockout round prior to playing LAFC.