Preview: Galaxy looking for three points against Portland following two-week break

LA begin second half of the season Sunday in need of a win over the Timbers

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CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy team that returns to action Sunday at The Home Depot Center against the Portland Timbers after a two-week break is one desperately hoping for some good news.

It’s otherwise been a season of major disappointment for the defending MLS Cup champions, who are in last place in the Western Conference with a 3-8-2 record and trying to get back in the playoff picture. Doing that figures to be difficult, to say the least.

Galaxy discuss Timbers match

Three players (Mike Magee, Hector Jimenez and Michael Stephens) will miss Sunday’s game (4 p.m., KDOC, KWHY, lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive) because of league suspensions and six others (Edson Buddle, Andrew Boyens, Adam Cristman, Omar Gonzalez, Dan Keat and Leonardo) are out with injuries.

READ: Lineup decisions await Galaxy on Sunday against Timbers

But there actually are a few positives.

Landon Donovan returned to training this week from national team duties and goalkeeper Josh Saunders is expected to start. Saunders, who recently went through Major League Soccer’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program, hasn’t seen any regular-season action since April 21, but he has gone the full 90 minutes twice for the LA Galaxy reserve team the last two weeks.

READ: Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders all smiles after return to club

Defender Todd Dunivant said all is not lost in the Galaxy kingdom despite owning a record that is the club’s worst through 13 games since 2006. Dunivant said the time is now to get their act together.

WATCH: Beckham's wonder goal vs Portland

“We want to right the ship,” he said. “The good thing is we still have 20 some odd games to go, and we can do that.

I think we just need to remind ourselves how to win again.”

One of their high-water marks this season actually came at the expense of the Timbers. It was on April 14 at The Home Depot Center when Portland took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Kris Boyd, but the Galaxy responded with three goals – including a memorable long-range effort by David Beckham – for a 3-1 win.

“I thought that was the first time we showed some good resolve,” said striker Chad Barrett, who is expected to start Sunday. “We really showed the type of team we can be.”

READ: Barrett says Galaxy must show their competitive side to end winless streak

The Galaxy will be facing a Timbers (3-5-4, 13 points) squad with their own struggles. Head coach John Spencer is looking to put those struggles behind them by beefing up his team’s attack with the acquisition of Danny Mwanga from the Philadelphia Union. Mwanga, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, is likely to be paired with Boyd up top while Darlington Nagbe will move to the right wing.

Nagbe will be joined in midfield by Diego Chara, who has started every game this season for the Timbers, Eric Alexander, and Kalif Alhassan, allowing captain Jack Jewsbury to move to right back. Though it’s not Jewsbury’s natural position, he showed well there in a 1-1 draw with Vancouver and could be used there again on Sunday.

The Galaxy, however, aren’t so much concerned with the Timbers as they are with themselves. It’s getting to the point where it’s now or never for the Galaxy to mount a comeback.

“It’s time to forget what we did,” Barrett said. “Everybody got a chance to do what they need to do to get ready for a push in the second half of the season.”