Three times each year we get to chat with Josie Becker of SB Nation's Galaxy blog, LAG Confidential. This time around, we're here to discuss the July 4 game at StubHub Center, a game that for the Portland Timbers precedes two big games against the Seattle Sounders. But lest we overlook the game in Carson, we've asked Josie for an update on a team that has somehow played four fewer games than Portland but is level on points:
1. After a bit of a rough spell in early May, including the dramatic 1-1 draw in Portland, the Galaxy have gone five straight without a loss. What's been the difference from winless in four to unbeaten in five?
It's an especially interesting question since the Galaxy had another streak that covered both those periods, holding opponents to just one goal. The first match of the winless streak was a 2-2 draw, and then began the long 1 goal streak which lasted until the 1-0 defeat of San Jose. For LA fans it was especially hard since many of those goals were given up after the 60th minute. It's been a knock against the club for several years, and what exactly causes teams to give up late goals? How do you coach out not turning off an hour into the match? Whatever that special power is, LA getting the one goal victory over the San Jose squad who reinvented the late comeback over the last few years is certainly a step in the right direction.
2. Why exactly has LA only played 13 games?
See there was this CONCACAF Champions League thingy, and LA drew Tijuana so like that was one rescheduled game and then, well. I dunno man, MLS scheduled LA for two bye weeks in the first two months before LA requested a third off for CCL. How whack is that? I'd go so far as to say it's wiggidey whack. The side benefit of having those matches off is that LA gets to play matches in hand with their full squad. On top of the international absences all three designated players had to fulfill, LA has had to deal with a slew of injuries.
Did MLS give LA extra bye weeks in anticipation of Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez being gone for extended periods of time? Do I want to ring that conspiracy theory bell? But if the shoe fits, wear it. Although that could still be someone else's shoe, just coincidence that you have the same shoe size. Sherlock Holmes was a bit off on that theory.
3. Landon Donovan has, understandably, been all over the news over the past few weeks. Let's stick to MLS, though, so how healthy is he and how should the Timbers expect Bruce Arena to use him?
Donovan came off the bench in Carolina, but he went the full ninety against San Jose in a central attacking midfielder role so I expect him to go again with the Timbers in town. He just had one key pass against San Jose but he made it in zone 14 in front of goal which is where he needs to be creating as a CAM. He was two for three on passes in that area, although both of his crosses in the final third were unsuccessful. If he really gets going in that role, hopefully Robbie Keane will stop feeling like he has to drop back to the midway line. Staying out of the penalty area against San Jose gave Gyasi Zardes a handful of chances, but LA's best chance to score is always going to be with him up top.
Jaime Penedo; A.J. DeLaGarza, Kofi Opare, Tommy Meyer, Robbie Rogers; Juninho; Stefan Ishizaki, Marcelo Sarvas; Landon Donovan; Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane