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● Portland Timbers are currently tenth in the Western Division and have won just one out of four games this season
● LA Galaxy are winless in their three games this season and are currently ranked 12th in the Western Division
● The last time these two sides met at Providence Park, LA Galaxy clinched a 3-1 win, and both sides finished with ten men
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Pick: LA Galaxy to win (+187)
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Portland Timbers got off to a good start this season after securing a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City. However, after that game, the club suffered three successive defeats. The latest one of the three came this past weekend when Atlanta United thrashed them 5-1.
LA Galaxy started the season on the wrong foot, as they are still looking for their first win after three games. The five-time MLS champions have lost one and drawn two games so far. LA Galaxy held Vancouver Whitecaps to a 1-1 draw this past weekend.
Both sides are desperate for a win in this fixture and are struggling to find form, and a few other challenges are piling pressure on both clubs. Key players for both sides will be missing, and a tightly contested encounter will likely swing in favor of LA Galaxy.
This will be the 32nd meeting in the MLS between these two clubs. In the previous encounters, Portland Timbers have won 11 times, while LA Galaxy emerged victorious on 13 occasions. Seven games have ended in draws.
In the last four games between these clubs, LA Galaxy are unbeaten after winning three and drawing one game. That one draw came in the last encounter when Dejan Joveljic scored an 88th-minute equalizer for LA Galaxy as they took a point off Portland Timbers at Dignity Health Sports Park.
While the overall head-to-head statistics favors LA Galaxy, the record between the two sides at Providence Park favors the hosts. Out of 15 matches played in Portland Timbers’ backyard, eight have reaped results that favored the hosts, while LA Galaxy have only won four times.
After a positive start, the slump commenced for Portland Timbers on matchday two of the 2023 MLS season, and it has not ended yet. The club has conceded ten goals in the last three games, making their defense the second-worst in the Western Division.
The only positive coach Giovanni Savarese can take from these results is that Portland Timbers have not failed to score yet. In all four games this season, the club has scored at least one goal and denied their opponents a shutout.
In addition to that, two out of their last three losses have been narrow. Portland Timbers were 3-0 down against Los Angeles FC three weeks ago but almost completed a late comeback before losing 3-2. In the next game, they let a one-goal lead slip and went down 2-1 against St. Louis City.
In the first two games of the season, Savarese deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation. In the first game, it proved to be an effective one, and in the second game, despite losing, Portland Timbers were almost able to hold defending champions Los Angeles FC to a draw away from home.
The coach has decided to field a very defensive 5-3-2 formation in the last two games. With a five-man backline, Portland Timbers have conceded seven goals in those two matches. Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic were extremely poor in defense in the last game.
Portland Timbers were trailing 5-0 when Savarese made substitutions and tweaked the formation. Seven minutes after the change, substitutes Diego Gutierrez and Tega Ikoba combined to score their side’s first goal of the evening. So a tactical switch could be in store ahead of the next game.
The last game was one to forget for Portland Timbers, especially for their midfield. Eryk Williamson was the only player who was a threat to Atlanta United. Williamson won the most duels and the most free-kicks in the match.
However, the midfielder is without his midfield companion Cristhian Paredes, who suffered a hamstring injury over a week ago. Paredes is one of Portland Timbers’ goal scorers this season so far and will be a big miss in their midfield against LA Galaxy.
The desperation for the new season’s first victory is growing every week as LA Galaxy look to end that wait in Portland. However, despite Portland Timbers’ poor recent form, it will be anything but an easy task to get a win for LA Galaxy.
The five-time MLS champions have played two contrasting draws in the last two matches. The first came against Sporting Kansas City, in which the LA Galaxy were completely outplayed and extremely lucky to walk away with a point.
Against the Vancouver Whitecaps this past weekend, LA Galaxy were the more dominant side. However, they only found the back of the net once and that was for an equalizer in first-half stoppage time. Now, the former MLS champions are really desperate for a win.
The injury list at LA Galaxy may not be as lengthy as Portland Timbers’, but all four players on the visitor’s list are vital players. Earlier this season, the five-time champions were dealt a blow in the attacking department when Douglas Costa and Javier Hernandez were sidelined for a month.
Costa suffered a calf injury, while a hamstring injury ruled last season’s club top-scorer Hernandez out for a significant amount of time. The effects of that are evident as LA Galaxy continue to struggle in attack.
To make the situation worse, LA Galaxy lost their first-choice goalkeeper Jonathan Bond in the 1-1 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps this past Saturday. The shot-stopper joins left-back Chase Gasper on the injury list, and both players are out for around a month.
Last season, LA Galaxy scored 61 goals and almost half of these goals came from Hernandez and Dejan Joveljic. The Mexican talisman scored 18 goals, while the Serbian youngster found the back of the net on 12 occasions.
Hernandez is injured, and so is Costa. Another goal-getter for LA Galaxy last season was Samuel Grandsir, who left the club at the end of last season to join Le Havre. Hence, the goalscoring onus is now entirely on Joveljic till Hernandez and Costa return in April.
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● Teams: Portland Timbers vs LA Galaxy
● Location: Providence Park
● Time: Saturday, March 25 at 4:30 pm ET
● How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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