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Get ready for a Western Conference battle that’ll likely feel like a playoff preview.
Both heading into the weekend with a four-game undefeated streak, the Portland Timbers and LAFC are picking up their pace near the end of the regular season.
In the fight for a postseason invitation, nothing is guaranteed for the two powerhouse clubs that have been inconsistent for most of 2021.
They’re gaining ground at the right moment, and in that playoff chase, Sunday’s match will be a crucial moment to not only claim three points, but also another boost in confidence.
With both teams hitting their stride, an entertaining stalemate should be the likely ending.
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Let’s talk about the turnaround that Portland and LAFC are having.
For Portland, their defense has looked much better.
Despite their latest 2-2 draw on Wednesday with the Colorado Rapids, the midweek result was the first time they’ve allowed goals after earning shutouts in three previous matches.
The changes they’ve made to influence this have been substantial. With an organized backline and some help from the midfield, they’ve only allowed two goals in their last four outings.
As for LAFC, even with Carlos Vela still recovering from an injury, the biggest difference-maker has been a certain new figure who has been nothing short of brilliant.
The 26-year-old Colombian understandably needed a few weeks to adjust to his surroundings, and since scoring his first goal in August, he has yet to slow his pace.
Arango has five goals in his last four appearances and has immediately become the new focal point of LAFC’s attack.
He is mesmerizing to watch, and along with his goals, he’s also done a great job with winning duels and connecting with his frontline.
That said, Portland have plenty of firepower of their own as well.
Few in MLS have the same type of consistency as Portland’s Felipe Mora.
The Chilean has 10 goals and three assists so far this season, and in just his last nine games, he has been vital with his six goals and two assists.
He’s not alone either. In support, Sebastian Blanco has been incredible with his playmaking, work rate, and his two goals since late August.
As mentioned earlier, this easily has all of the makings of a postseason scrap.
LAFC are looking rejuvenated with Arango spearheading the attack, and as for Portland, they’ve found a second wind in their sails as they’ve avoided what appeared to be a serious drop in form.
Matches like these tend to be tight affairs, and with much-needed points on the line, it’ll likely go down to the wire.
|Portland Timbers vs LAFC Information|
|Teams||Portland Timbers vs LAFC|
|Location||Providence Park (Portland, Oregon)|
|Time||Sunday, September 19th at 4:30 pm PT/7:30 pm ET|
|How to Watch||FS1, Fox Deportes|
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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