CARSON, Calif. – There’s no doubt that the LA Galaxy’s 11:30 a.m. PT time kick off for Sunday’s match against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park will provide a change of pace.
Even well-traveled Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who has coached in MLS since the league’s inception in 1996, admits that he can’t remember managing in a game at such an early hour.
“I don’t recall that ever happening, not in this league,” said the Galaxy head coach. “We actually foolishly played Honduras one time in a World Cup qualifying match at 10 in the morning to satisfy TV, in Washington, D.C., where there are probably more Hondurans then there are in the country of Honduras. It was not a good day, we lost 3-2.”
Arena will be hoping that the new time will be bring a different result in Sunday’s Brunch-time clash as the Galaxy will look to put their past stumbles in the Rose City behind them. Since the Timbers entered MLS in 2011, the Galaxy are a meager 1-3-0 in Portland, with six goals scored—five coming in their lone victory in July 2012— and nine goals conceded.
In each of the Galaxy’s two trips to Portland in 2013, strong showings ended in one goal defeats (2-1 and 1-0 respectively) with key defensive breakdowns proving decisive. Add in the unforgiving turf surface at Providence Park and the cauldron that is the Timbers’ loyal fan support, and it creates a tough obstacle for the Galaxy to overcome.
"It's a difficult place to go. There's a good atmosphere which is good and they're so used to playing on the turf that they know it better than anyone else," said LA captain Robbie Keane who has scored two goals in Portland since 2012. "It's a tough game and always a tough place to go."
The Galaxy will need to capitalize on their opportunities in Portland as the match is their final game with Landon Donovan, who will likely head off to the U.S. National Team’s pre-World Cup training camp next week in Northern California. They’ll also face a Timbers team that stumbled out of the gate this season with a 1-3-5 record in 2014 despite being loaded with attacking options like leading goal scorer Gaston Fernandez and playmaker Diego Valeri.
Although Portland is riding high after a Maximiliano Urruti stoppage time goal against D.C. United gave them their first win of the season, Donovan believes that the time is right for LA to earn a result in the Rose City.
“I don’t feel like we’ve been bad [in Portland]. It’s a situation where we have to be better in key moments, but I think that we’ve played well in all of our road games and done well,” said Donovan. “Now we just have to make sure that we get the results to match.”