MLS Preview: LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers, 6/19/13
LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers, Wednesday 6/16/13 7:30 PM PDT StubHub Center, Carson CA. Time Warner Cable Sports
By Anthony Padilla
Last season, the LA Galaxy were consistent throughout. Consistently poor at the start, then consistently excellent once Robbie Keane returned from the Euros and Omar Gonzalez returned from his knee injury. Coach Bruce Arena and the players have talked repeatedly about not having an MLS Cup 2012 championship hangover like they had after MLS Cup 2011.
This season, they have a much different problem, one of inconsistency. Through national team call-ups, injuries, and the famous hiatus of one Landon Donovan, the Galaxy have had to rely on their bench liberally this season, with consequent mixed results. Stunning victories like away to Real Salt Lake and at home vs. Seattle Sounders has been followed by painful defeats. The Galaxy have been outscored 8-1 in the two games since beating Seattle. The 5-0 beat down by New England now stands as the worst loss in the LA Galaxy’s 17 year history.
The Galaxy will try to rebound against Portland Wednesday at the StubHub Center. Robbie Keane should return to the starting lineup after his four-game, five-goal stint for Ireland. Look for Keane to return to his scoring ways for LA Wednesday. While Jack McBean and Todd Dunivant have both returned to training, it’s unlikely McBean will see the game-day roster. Given the struggles of Greg Cochrane, Dunivant’s rookie understudy, and the Galaxy’s 0-6-2 record during Dunivant’s absences this season, Bruce will want Dunivant at least on the bench to get him up to match-sharpness as soon as possible. Omar Gonzalez and Jose Villareal remain away on national team duty, and will be unavailable against Portland.
Expect Carlo Cudiccini to return in goal. Bruce Arena re-iterated that Cudiccini is the Galaxy’s number one goalkeeper after Arena chose to rest him for the Real Salt Lake game in favor of Brian Rowe. Marcelo Sarvas is suspended for yellow-card accumulation, despite the MLS Disciplinary Committee fining Ned Grabavoy for simulation on reviewing the play. There is no provision in the current MLS rules for rescinding yellow-cards.
Portland will have available its full complement of International players for Wednesday’s game, with the possible exception of Roy Miller who was with Costa Rica Saturday. Of five previous matches between Portland and the Galaxy, LA have won four outright, with the lone win for Portland coming in their inaugural season at home in 2011. This ain’t your older brother’s Portland Timbers, however (Portland’s only been in MLS two years, after all). The Timbers currently have a six point lead on the Galaxy in the Western Conference standings. Portland own the league’s reigning unbeaten run, 13 games, and just posted a 1-0 home win against first place FC Dallas from a goal by Darlington Nagbe.
Will the Galaxy be able to end that run? To do so, LA will need to get 90-minute performances from everyone on the team. Couple the unbeaten run with a 3rd place standing in the Western Conference, and the Timbers look to be a formidable foe for the Galaxy on Wednesday night.
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