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Storylines: LAFC vs Portland Timbers

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Timbers look to rebound after Hoth-bowl 3

Portland Timbers v Los Angeles FC Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Story So Far

Not quite the way to start the season but what do you expect when the match was played on the planet Hoth. If we’re being honest, it’s a match that shouldn’t have been played after the first half. Regardless, it was played, and we saw a second half in which the Timbers would concede a late goal to allow Colorado to get away with a draw.

On the other hand, Los Angeles Football Club got their season off to the right start, winning their home opener against a shorthanded Sporting Kansas City. It wasn’t like LAFC cruised to the 2-1 victory, it took a deep stoppage time goal by Adama Diomande to break the deadlock.

Can the Timbers even their record, or will the black and gold of LAFC continue their ways and notch a second win in a row at home?

What To Watch For

Los Angeles Football Club (1-0-0, 3pts)

LAFC vs SKC

Bob Bradley and his squad are headed into their second season in Major League Soccer and look to better their 2018 campaign. This is a team that set the record for most points by an expansion club (57), and made a playoff run that left a sour taste in their mouth. For the most part, this is the same team as last season, though they’re missing a couple key players including Benny Feilhaber who now, as we know, plays in Colorado.

The key question is who is going to provide goals from the striker position; we know that Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi can put the ball in the back of the net with consistency and are all in all damn dangerous. It’s either going to be either Christian Ramirez or Adama Diomande up top for LAFC. Both can be dangerous but I’d err on the side of Diomande being thorn in the side of the Timbers. Does he get the start? Only Bob Bradley knows for sure. Add on to that Rossi and Vela and this attack is a nightmare for defenses.

Bradley sticks with a 4-3-3 and doesn’t really employ a traditional defensive midfielder; all three push forward in the attack, but also have defensive duties as well. They depend on short passes, possession, and through balls. A lot of what they do does come from individual skill, but when you throw it all together you get a pretty tough team.

It’ll be interesting to see just show the LAFC attack will evolve during the match depending on which striker they intend to use.

Portland Timbers (0-0-1, 1 pt)

PTFC v Rapids

A point is a point is a point.

One of the things that dogged the Timbers in 2018 was their collective inability to put teams away in the dying minutes of matches. Last season in minutes 76-90 the Timbers conceded the most goals (15) than any other time interval all season; the closest was minutes 31-45 with 12 goals conceded.

Colorado was another shining example.

Listen, regardless of the weather conditions and a goal lead, the Timbers should have been able to shut down the match from there, but instead allowed Colorado to shovel up a point.

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing we can really glean from the season opener. Not much you can get from playing in a snowstorm in searing cold. So, this match against LAFC we’ll get a better look at the 2019 Timbers. A bulk of the starting lineup is returning from last year, the missing piece is the recently departed Liam Ridgewell who now plays for Championship side Hull City. In his place is Julio Cascante who had his share of growing pains last season, and eventually lost his job to a returning Ridgewell.

The attack looks solid with the only question being Jeremy Ebobisse. For the time being he’s the guy up top, with the Timbers unable at the moment to find the DP striker they’ve been on the hunt for. I (along with everyone else) hope he builds on his successes last season while he continues to start.

Not that I’ll be doing weather updates on a regular basis, but it will be a lot different in LA that it was in Colorado. It’s going to be wet and in the upper 50’s by first kick. It’s supposed to rain most of the day and will give way to partly cloudy later on. All in all, much better than a massive snow storm.

Log Slices

Saturday’s match was the fifth time that Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri have scored goals in the same match. The Timbers are 2-0-3 when they tally goals together.

The 2019 season marks Diego Chara’s ninth consecutive season with the Timbers. He is the first player in club history across all eras to play more than eight seasons with Portland.

Bill Tuiloma is listed as questionable for Sunday’s match with a lower strain on his right leg.

Jair Marrufo is the referee for this match.