The Portland Timbers arrive at the StubHub Center on Sunday in hopes of getting their first road victory in franchise history against the LA Galaxy.
The Timbers are in seventh place in the Western Conference with 47 points, sitting just outside of the playoff picture. The Timbers are behind the sixth placed San Jose Earthquakes and fifth placed Seattle Sounders on goal difference, but have a game in hand on their northern Californian rivals. However, Portland has just one game left after Sunday's show down in Southern California, and they cannot afford to let any points slip.
In addition to being level on points with the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders, Portland are just one point from fourth place Sporting Kansas City, who are on 48 points). The Major League Soccer (MLS) playoffs have not yet begun, but for the Timbers losing this match would take their postseason destiny out of their hands.
If the Timbers win in LA, it will be their first victory in eight attempts. Their record in Los Angeles is 0-2-5, and they also have a disappointing -13 goal differential.
However, that being said Portland is facing an opponent with something to gain. LA has 51 points, and defeating the Timbers will nearly guarantee their spot in the top three in the West. For that to happen, they will need Sporting Kansas City to lose their next match on Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids at Sporting Park.
Both clubs have not been on fire as of late. Yes, both LA and Portland had positive results in their last matches, but in their previous five there has been nothing to write about it. The Galaxy has gone 1-2-2 with a -3 goal differential. The Timbers have done slightly better with a 2-1-2 record, and a -1 goal differential.
One thing going for the Timbers is that the Galaxy has a laundry list of injuries. That will affect LA manager Bruce Arena’s game plan. The players out for this game are: midfielder Bradford Jamieson IV with a concussion, defender Todd Dunivant with foot injury, midfielder Baggio Husidic with leg injury, forward Giovani dos Santos with a muscle strain and defender Robbie Rogers with a left hip injury. It is safe to say that the Galaxy are hobbling into this match.
Regardless of the injuries, the Galaxy are still a dangerous club, especially at home. Captain Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes, Sebastian Lleget and Juninho can pull out the victory on Sunday with ease.
Additionally, Portland will be missing a key player themselves on Sunday. Jamaican international defender Alvas Powell will not be available, as he is currently serving a one game suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards. They might also be without Canadian international midfielder Will Johnson; he is recovering from a leg injury.
The Timbers will need leading scorer forward Fanendo Adi (13 goals) to deliver the historic victory. However, Portland is also going to need the vision of midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri to break down the Galaxy and set up Adi or score.
Prediction: Timbers 2-1 Galaxy
Portland has more motivation to win this game and that effort will show. Their effort will catch LA sleeping from the start and they will never look back.