The Portland Timbers have a quick turnaround for this one as they head back on the road to take on the LA Galaxy in tonight's clash for sole control of the third place spot in the Western Conference. Currently on 25 points apiece, the Timbers could move to within striking distance of the top teams in the league, including fellow Cascadian sides the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.
Hey, no real preview for this one, so here are a few quick thoughts on this match. -Will
This match is giving every indication that it will be a close and hard-fought contest between the Timbers and Galaxy. Both teams started slow and have been marching their way up the table and both teams have recently had a number of players return from injury; for the Timbers, the return of Will Johnson and Diego Valeri has coincided nicely with the uptick in the team's form, while the Galaxy saw reigning MVP Robbie Keane play his first 90 minutes since the start of the season over the week.
Both teams are coming into this match having played over the weekend as well. The Timbers are coming off a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo, a match that the Timbers were not ectremely effective in but still managed to dominate, while the Galaxy are coming into this match following a 5-1 drubbing of the league's current punching bag, the Philadelphia Union.
For the Timbers, this match will certainly see several changes to the starting lineup as the team follows the rotation policy that has been effective in recent matches. Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi could return to the starting lineup for this one, although that is far from a sure thing. At the back, Nat Borchers seems likely to make his way back into the lineup, probably replacing Norberto Paparatto, despite several excellent shifts from the big Argentine defender. In the center of the pitch, Jack Jewsbury seems likely to make his return, although who he will be partnered with; Johnson, Diego Chara, or the up and coming George Fochive; is still very up in the air.
The Galaxy, meanwhile, have a big question to answer surround Keane. The influential forward played 90 minutes against the Union and this quick turnaround could see the Galaxy tempted to either give him a short shift or play him off the bench. A full 90 from a player that has not been healthy for most of this season seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
Still, the Galaxy have plenty of talent outside of Keane, with Gyassi Zardes back from his USMNT call up, Alan Gordan continuing to be infuriatingly effective, and recent arrival Sebastian Lletget already having chipped in two goals in just four games.
Watch it on: ESPN 2
Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. PT at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA
Portland Timbers: 7-5-4, 3rd place in the Western Conference
LA Galaxy: 6-5-7, 4th place in the Western Conference