MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
08/01/2014 2:46 PM
08/01/2014 2:50 PM
Portland (6-6-9) at Los Angeles (8-4-6), 2:30 p.m.
Carson, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Two surging teams will meet at the StubHub Center on Saturday as the Los Angeles Galaxy will host the Portland Timbers.
The Galaxy are flying high after a surprising 3-0 victory at first-place Seattle Sounders FC last time out, but the Timbers appear to have found their form in recent weeks as they enter the weekend having won their last two contests.
After earning a come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Rapids on July 18, Portland duplicated the feat by edging the Montreal Impact in a 3-2 win at the Stade Saputo on Sunday.
"This team - they've been through a lot this year, and we never quit and we've kept fighting and grinding," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. "Because of what we've been through, we are one of the most mentally tough teams in MLS right now because we've had to do it the hard way."
The victory over Montreal was the second straight match marked by a late winner from Diego Valeri, and Porter highlighted his intention to "go for it" against an Eastern Conference team.
"For us, this was three points or bust," Porter said. "It's one of those games where you're not playing a conference team where it's a six-point swing, where you try to win those games, but if it looks like you can't win, then you don't lose because at least you hold the points. We're going to gamble in these non- conference games, even if it means risking a loss. We're going to go for it."
Porter's comments could signal that the Timbers may be willing to settle for a point at the StubHub Center against a Galaxy side that has not lost on home soil since their opening match of the season.
Los Angeles has gone on to produce a 5-0-2 record at home since its defeat to Real Salt Lake on March 8, a run that included a 2-2 draw with the Timbers on July 4.
Since that tie with Portland, Los Angeles has won three out of four to climb to third place in the Western Conference, most recently cruising to comfortable defeat of the Sounders.
"We played well," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "We looked sharp and, you know, it's mid-year right now. Everyone is still finding themselves. We're just beginning to get our team on the field. After a half a season of misery, having to deal with the injuries and the absences and all that, hopefully we'll get a little bit more of a solidified unit."
Landon Donovan, who suffered a slight dip in form following his exclusion from the United States World Cup squad, played a starring role in the momentous victory, which is a good omen for the Galaxy in their push toward the playoffs.
"I felt really good this week," Donovan said after the defeat of Seattle. "I feel like I'm starting to play well again. I really pushed myself to be playing well in April and May of this year, and I was, and then I just dropped off a little bit. It's important for me to get back to that. Again, this is only one night and it's got to continue. That's what's expected of me, and that's what I expect of myself."
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