Portland's last league game feels like it happened last year and this is the first game of the new season and in some ways it is the first game in a new season. I won't call this a must win but if Portland really wants to get into the playoffs this is the kind of game they need to get three points from. The LA Galaxy are going to be undermanned and limping in with a 7 game winless streak the expectation is a full three points.
Portland will win if: Troy Perkins can keep his amazing run of form going. If only he could transfer his heart and desire to everyone else on the team except Kris Boyd and Mike Chabala. The CB's have to do a better job of containing players near the box and win the crosses that will be whipped in from all angles from David Beckham. The outside backs need to minimize the damage of Landon Donovan (if he is on the outside) and Beckham.
Portland will lose if: Landycakes and Beckham are allowed time and space to run at people or cross the ball. If Donovan is allowed to user his speed against the outside backs or CBs the Galaxy will be able to break down Portland's defense. Giving Beckham space is signing your own death warrant, even with Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane not available for the game any professional can get onto the end of Beckham's pinpoint crosses.
Portland will win if: The midfield can balance penchant for defense and the need for Portland to build the attack. Kalif Alhassan and Darlington Nagbe need to be the creative presence in the midfield. Diego Chara needs to be a disruptive force and to help cut off the supply to Donovan and Beckham.
Portland will lose if: Kalif Alhassan focuses solely on his offense and does not track back to help the outside backs with their defensive assignment. If Nagbe performs another disappearing act and does not find the game Portland's offense will once again sputter. Beckham and Donovan may not have the supporting cast but they still can be very dangerous.
Portland will win if: Danny Mwanga can be what Jorge Perlaza was not and links up with Alhassan and Nagbe. Mwanga playing as a creative forward and playing to Boyd's strength could be the offensive spark Portland has been missing and if it works we could see an offensive explosion.
Portland will lose if: The Galaxy are able to handle Portland's long balls and can keep Boyd from getting into dangerous positions. To keep Boyd under control the Galaxy CBs need to be constantly communicating and if Mwanga can't link up with the midfielders then their job will be that much easier. Lately Portland's only offense has been crosses and long balls and if the backline of the Galaxy handles those it can effectively starve Portland's offense.
This game is going to go one of two ways, either Portland will score three or the Galaxy will score three. I am leaning to Portland getting the three goals but it all hinges on how Mwanga, KAH, and Nagbe are able to play together. I think the game will be 3-1 Portland, I am ever the optimist.