For the second time in four days, the Portland Timbers are set to take on Los Angeles FC on the road at Banc of California Stadium, but this time the two teams will be meeting in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, and a draw is not an option.
During last Sunday’s 0-0 draw between the two sides, the Timbers had their chances, but they were not able to come away with a win in 90 minutes of play. Now, half a week later, the Timbers will need to capitalize on the chances they generate against an LAFC side that have proven to be defensively solid, as well as explosive in the attack — and it will be imperative that they do so without going the distance and adding a half hour of extra time to an already over-busy week.
To advance, the Timbers will need to win their individual battles, starting with the game of chicken between Giovanni Savarese and Bob Bradley as the two head coaches set their lineups. Looking to make changes and exploit their opponent’s tactics must be weighed against both sides’ return to league play this weekend. Starting a stronger lineup than your opposition in a single-elimination tournament is no guarantee of success, but it is a good start, and the temptation to run out a very similar lineup to what we saw over the weekend is strong.
Still, there are plenty of opportunities for new faces to take the pitch in tonight’s match, as both the Timbers and LAFC have some very potent depth pieces that did not see much of the pitch over the weekend, including players such as designated player Fanendo Adi and World Cup returnee David Guzman for the Timbers.
Regardless of how they line up, neither side is taking this competition lightly. LAFC have made it clear both on and off the field that they want to compete for hardware from the jump, and the Open Cup is the side’s first, and best, chance to make that happen. The Timbers, meanwhile, have made “every game is a final” their mantra since the arrival of Saravese.
How to watch: streaming on Timbers.com
Where: Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, CA
When: Wednesday, July 18th at 7:30 p.m. PT
Portland Timbers: 8-3-6, 4th place in the Western Conference, drew 0-0 at Los Angeles FC
Los Angeles FC: 10-4-6, 2nd place in the Western Conference, drew 0-0 vs. Portland Timbers