CARSON, Calif. – It was a little less than a month ago when the LA Galaxy embarked on a daunting three-game, six-day stretch and came out of it with three victories, including a stirring comeback on the road against Real Salt Lake.
The defending MLS Cup champions face another difficult week of games that starts Saturday night in Portland, continues Wednesday in Vancouver and concludes a week from Saturday at The Home Depot Center in the home leg of SuperClasico against Chivas USA.
Match Preview: Timbers vs Galaxy
“It’s certainly going to be a big week for us,” Robbie Keane acknowledged after training Thursday. “These are the games where you need your whole squad of players to come together. It’s important everybody’s ready.”
It’s also important that the Galaxy (7-10-2) know what they’re getting into. In the Timbers (Saturday, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network, AM 1150, 1330 AM, LIVE CHAT), Bruce Arena’s squad will be taking on a team which just underwent a coaching change and plays in one of the more intimidating environments in MLS.
It was last Aug. 3 when the Galaxy ventured into JELD-WEN Field, where 18,627 fans watched the Timbers blitz the Galaxy in a 3-0 victory, snapping LA’s 14-game unbeaten streak. Having already lost twice to the Galaxy in Carson, the Timbers currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with a 5-8-4 record, though they are 5-5-2 in front of the Timbers Army. In an effort to revitalize their playoff aspirations, the Timbers made a significant move on Monday replacing head coach John Spencer with general manager Gavin Wilkinson on an interim basis.
Wilkinson has been with the club since its inaugural United Soccer League season in 2001, first as a player, then as an assistant coach, head coach and general manager. He was USL First Division Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2009.
WATCH: View from the Booth
Galaxy players are understandably wary of what lies ahead on Saturday.
“Sometimes the team you get, the players want to impress the manager or whatever,” Keane said. “That’s usually the case, but hopefully it won’t be the case on Saturday.”
David Beckham echoed those sentiments.
“Obviously John Spencer being fired from the team and a new manager coming in, sometimes that can be a real good thing for a team and a team can come together and show a lot of unity,” he said.
Landon Donovan said it didn’t matter who was coaching the Timbers. He and the Galaxy were expecting a difficult game all along, even before the managerial change.
“It’s a difficult thing for them to process,” he said. “But that team plays well at home. No matter who’s coaching, they’re going to be ready to play at home.”
The Timbers, in fact, have not lost a regular season match at home since a 2-1 loss to Chivas USA on April 7, though they did fall to Cal FC in the U.S. Open Cup there in late May. Not only have the Timbers not lost a regular season game at home since that 2-1 defeat to Chivas USA, they have not trailed at home since then.
“It’s always a tough place to go; (20,000) people with a very passionate crowd and a very passionate team,” Beckham said. “We know it’s going to be a tough game.”