The Portland Timbers came out of the gates on fire last weekend in their 5-1 season-opening win against Minnesota United FC. Now the Timbers head to California to face the LA Galaxy in their first road match of the year as well as their first test of the side's depth.
While the Timbers' front six is intact from last week, it is their back line that is in question; three of the side's four starters on defense went down with a knock this week. Vytas Andriuškevičius is definitively out for the week after picking up a calf sprain, while Liam Ridgewell and Alvas Powell, respectively dealing with a foot injury and an ankle sprain, were both listed by Caleb Porter as "day-to-day" in his weekly press briefing. All that leaves the Timbers' back line with Lawrence Olum as the sole remaining starter from last week's match.
Filling in for Vytas and matching up against new LA Designated Player winger Romain Alessandrini will be youngster Marco Farfan in his first team debut. At only 18 years old, Farfan will be the youngest player to see the pitch for the Timbers in the MLS era when he takes the field at StubHub this afternoon. However, it was Farfan who was matched up against Alessandrini in the Timbers' final match of the preseason and although Alessandrini was the Galaxy's biggest creative force on the night, Farfan held his own, looking comfortable playing on the flank behind Darlington Nagbe.
The biggest factor here will likely be the extent to which the Timbers reign in Farfan's runs forward. The youngster is adept at getting into the attack, but in that final preseason match he was somewhat restrained, keeping Nagbe in front of him for most of the game.
Ridgewell and Powell, meanwhile, have coverage on the depth chart that is somewhat less spectacular, but decidedly more proven. While either or both players could get on the pitch, their backups are veterans Roy Miller at left center back and Chance Myers at right back, both of whom should provide a solid base along the back line, if not quite the same qualities in the attack.
Much of the slack, both on defense and in transition into the attack, will need to be picked up by the Timbers’ central midfield pairing of David Guzman and Diego Chara.
In the attack, the Timbers will likely look to get on the ball and hold it, again looking to possess the ball and deny their opponents the chance to get into the attack. With Jermaine Jones suspended for a reckless tackle in LA season opener against FC Dallas, the Galaxy will not have the dreadlocked destroyer swinging through the midfield like a wrecking ball, and will need to turn to a solid, but decidedly less dynamic player like Baggio Husidic to fill in the gap.
Although they were out-possessed by Adrian Heath’s Loons last Friday, the Timbers should have more luck against this Curt Onalfo-led Galaxy side. However, should the possession game not bear fruit, the Timbers will likely make the switch to the counter in the second half, looking to get Fanendo Adi in behind the LA back line.
Watch it on: FOX Sports 1
When: Sunday, March 12th at 4:00 p.m. PT
Where: The StubHub Center in Carson, CA
Portland Timbers: 1-0-0, Beat Minnesota United 5-1
LA Galaxy: 0-1-0, Lost to FC Dallas 2-1