The Portland Timbers play their last match of the season against the LA Galaxy, finally getting the chance to face the defending champions at home. The Timbers have been awfully generous to the Galaxy this year, as two of LA's seven wins have come against Portland. Saturday's match will be the Timbers' last chance this season to take points away from them.
Since the last time the Timbers and Galaxy met, the Galaxy has gone on a bit of a run. In their last six games LA has scored 13 goals -- a rate of 2.17 goals per match -- that's as compared to the 15 goals they scored in 13 previous contests (1.15 goals per match).
That's an impressive run, by any measure. Until you look at how they scored these goals.
The first, as Timbers fans will recall, was Todd Dunivant's header off a corner kick. Landon Donovan backed into Troy Perkins, who threw up his hands looking for a foul. The referee did not blow the whistle, however, and the goal was allowed. That was the first of many massive blunders committed by Galaxy opponents.
Three of the next 12 Galaxy goals came on interceptions of errant back passes by opposition defenders. Yes, Landon Donovan does well to apply pressure on opposing defenders, but MLS hasn't seen passing that consistently lousy since the 1990s.
They benefited from one own goal.
Lastly, two of the remaining nine were scored on penalty kicks awarded for handballs. And not Chara-esque handballs, either -- these were borderline calls. They could easily have not been called and nobody would have batted an eye.
That leaves six goals in six games that didn't result from massive defensive mishaps. A single goal per game is more in line with their season average. The point is, though the Galaxy has piled up 12 points in their last six matches, let's not chalk it up to a return to their 2011 form.
Now, one thing that could very easily return the Galaxy to their 2011 form is the possible return of Omar Gonzalez to the regular starting lineup. As big a part of the LA defense as he played last year, I don't think anybody expected his absence to have such a negative impact on goals scored. Without Gonzalez out of the lineup, the Galaxy has already allowed 28 goals, matching their 2011 season total.
Gonzalez played 45 minutes of the loss to Philadelphia but was unused as a substitute in the win against Chicago. He is still listed as questionable on the MLS injury report as of Tuesday, but it looks like they're bringing him back slowly. If he makes an appearance at all on Saturday, it'll probably be for just part of the game again.
After the Galaxy, the Timbers will face two teams near them at the bottom of the table, Chivas USA and FC Dallas. Both games are away from home. We'll have more information on those opponents closer to those match days.
Until then, what do you expect the Timbers to get out of next week?