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Storylines: Portland Timbers v LA Galaxy

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The Timbers welcome the Zlatan show..

MLS: Portland Timbers at Los Angeles Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

Six straight!

The Timbers once again put a W on the board, this time over the hapless Colorado Rapids. While it ended with a 3-2 scoreline - it doesn’t really reflect what really went on. Colorado got their goals from an own goal and a PK, other than that it could/should have ended 3-0. This is the best the Timbers have looked on the road this season.

Thanks to that six match win streak, the Timbers rocketed up the table to take hold of the third place spot, though they’ve fallen to fourth with a game in hand on LAFC, who sit in second by one point. Win Saturday, and we are tied with FC Dallas, who beat our opponents, the LA Galaxy. The last time the Timbers and the Galaxy met was in the season opener in Carson, and it ended 2-1 in favor of the hosts. Will the Galaxy get the upper hand, or will the Timbers continue their winning ways?

The Swedish Tiger

How can you write about the LA Galaxy without mentioning their star(?) striker. He’s fresh off a red card suspension, where he picked up a brace - but it wasn’t enough to pull the Galaxy ahead as they fell to FC Dallas 3-2 midweek. Before that they had been on a mini-win streak pulling off back to back 1-0 wins, without Zlatan’s services. They’ve shown they can win without the big guy but it seems they drop points with him in the lineup.

He can make things happen in a blink of his eye, yet he hasn’t really torn up the league as I’m sure Galaxy fans were hoping. Zlatan is sitting on five goals (which puts him about about 25th place in goals scored) after bagging a brace against FC Dallas. He’s still dangerous and if he’s not scoring goals, he’s drawing out defenders and opening up teammates. Though he does show open frustration when his teammates don’t do what he thinks they should be doing. Getting in his head early might lead to an erratic night for the big Swede.

Sinking Sigi?

I for one would like to know what’s going on in SoCal, and why this man still has a job. They have a losing record both on the road and at home. And as we know in MLS, you need to win at home, full stop. Midweek was just another example of how bad this team can be; they have the parts, but he can’t seem to put the puzzle together.

They’ve lost 5 of their last 7, after Wednesday’s loss at home to FC Dallas.

I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that his seat is getting pretty hot; even the fans are growing tired of Sigi and have been shouting “Sigi Out”. So, not all is well in the City of Angels, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better. He’s without the services of the Dos Santos brothers for the World Cup and the LA Galaxy defense is nothing to really write home about. They looked terrible giving up three goals to FCD midweek, and it seems the offense can’t keep up with the all the balls going into the net.

They are definitely not the Galaxy we’ve seen in the past.

Chalkboard

Wednesday night at the StubHub Center, the Galaxy rolled out a 4-2-3-1 against FCD, it was a somewhat rotated side. Sigi wanted to get some of his regulars rest for their match with the Timbers on the weekend. So expect to see Servando Carrasco move back to the bench and Joao Pedro will most likely start alongside Perry Kitchen in the defensive midfield.

The midfield three will be Kamara and Alessandrini out wide with Sebastian Lletget as the #10, and up top is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ola Kamara isn’t a wide midfielder, he’s a center-forward by trade - and he excels as it. But to accommodate Zlatan, he’s been moved out wide and out of position. He’s tied with the Swede for most goals, with 5 this season.

Look for their fullbacks getting up in the attack; believe it or not Ashley Cole (the club’s captain) still has some wheels. And look for them to bomb the box with crosses looking for the noggin of Ibra.

The Galaxy will attack down the right side, using as much width as they can. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kamara and Alessandrini hug the touchline Saturday afternoon at Providence Park. One of the places they are vulnerable is on set-pieces, they can’t defend them very well - which the Timbers can use to their advantage.

The Green And The Gold

The Timbers are now looking at a chance to win seven straight after they picked up their sixth at altitude in Commerce City. This team is starting to come into its own and things are starting to click. Things are looking up in the Rose City.

The Timbers will be without two players who are off to the World Cup: David Guzman and Andy Polo. While Guzman has either been injured or riding the pine, I don’t think he’ll be missed all that much going forward. Polo, on the other hand, has gotten regular minutes in that three man midfield in Gio’s favorite 4-3-2-1. I’d look for Andres Flores to get minutes in Polo’s place while he’s away.

One guy that’s living his best life right now is Samuel Armenteros. The Swede has won goal of the week twice in a row, and he also made the MLS Team Of The Week and FIFA 18’s Team Of The Week. With the things he’s done in the past couple weeks it would surprise me if he didn’t make the starting eleven against LAG.

Let’s talk about Julio Cascante.

He is not living his best life right now after last week in Colorado. He scored an own goal and gave up a spot kick. Not exactly the performance that supporters and coaches alike were hoping for from the 24 year-old defender after the bright start he got replacing Liam Ridgewell against LAFC. So that brings into question whether he starts or not against the Galaxy. Bill Tuiloma is fully fit and ready to go, but I have a gut feeling that Cascante gets another start.

Why? Because, and again this is just what my gut tells me, Gio isn’t going to bench him just because of a couple mistakes. High profile ones yes, but mistakes nonetheless. It might be a bit ruthless to bench him, which could hurt his confidence.