Match Report: LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers | September 30, 2023

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LOS ANGELES (Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023) – The LA Galaxy earned a 3-3 draw against the Portland Timbers before 23,101 fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday night. Eriq Zavaleta recorded a brace, while Douglas Costa notched a goal and two assists as LA extended its unbeaten run at home to eight matches dating back to June 21.  

LA Galaxy Run Of Form
Following the draw against Portland, the LA Galaxy improved to 6-2-8 (32 GF, 27 GA) in their last 16 regular season matches played dating back to May 31. During that span, LA has lost the fewest games in the league (2) and second in MLS in goals scored (35) behind only the Columbus Cew (36). Notably, the Galaxy have rescued a league-high 14 points from losing positions during the 16 league matches played (6-2-8, 26 points) dating back to May 31. LA is unbeaten in its last eight regular-season matches played at home (5-0-3; 19 GF, 12 GA) dating back to June 21.

Goal-Scoring Plays
POR – Santiago Moreno (Dairon Asprilla, Felipe Mora), 5th minute: Driving down the right side of the penalty area, Dairon Asprilla’s centering pass across the face of goal was converted from close range by Santiago Moreno.  

LA – Eriq Zavaleta (Douglas Costa), 10th minute: Douglas Costa’s corner-kick delivery into the middle of the penalty area found Eriq Zavaleta, who headed the ball past Portland goalkeeper David Bingham.  

POR – Own Goal (Eriq Zavaleta) , 38th minute: Felipe Mora’s shot from inside the box was deflected off Eriq Zavaleta and snuck in at the bottom right corner of the goal.   

LA – Douglas Costa, (Raheem Edwards), 43rd minute: The ball deflected off Raheem Edwards into the path of Douglas Costa, whose shot from the center of the penalty area was fired into the back of the net. 

LA –Eriq Zavaleta, (Douglas Costa), 45+1st minute:Douglas Costa’s in-swinging free-kick service into the penalty area was headed in from close range by Eriq Zavaleta. 

POR – Felipe Mora, 76th minute: A deflected ball inside the box fell to Felipe Mora, who placed his shot into the top right corner. 

Postgame Notes

  • With four games remaining in the 2023 MLS Regular Season, the LA Galaxy (30 GP, 8-11-11, 35 PTS) sit in 13th place in the Western Conference standings and six points behind ninth place FC Dallas (31 GP, 10-10-11, 41 PTS) for the final playoff spot. 
  • Following the draw against Portland, the LA Galaxy improved to 6-2-8 (35 GF, 30 GA) in their last 16 regular season matches played dating back to May 31.
  • Notably, the Galaxy have rescued 14 points from losing positions during the 16 league matches played (6-2-8, 26 points) dating back to May 31.
  • Saturday’s match marked the 36th meeting across all competitions between the Galaxy and the Portland Timbers, with LA leading the all-time series 14-13-9. 
  • Against Portland, LA holds a 13-11-9 record in league play and a 1-2-0 record in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. 
  • In 17 all-time regular-season matches home matches played against Portland at Dignity Health Sports Park, LA holds a 9-3-5 record. 
  • Additionally, the Galaxy hold a 2-0-2 record in their last four league matches played at home against Portland.
  • Notably, LA is unbeaten in its last six regular-season matches played against the Timbers (3-0-3; 13 GF, 7 GA) dating back to July 30, 2021.
  • When the opponent scores first this year, the Galaxy hold a 0-10-6 record and a 0-4-4 record at home. 
  • LA scored at least three goals for a third consecutive match dating back to Sept. 20 (1-0-2; 10 GF, 9 GA). 
  • Eriq Zavaleta, who last scored a goal in MLS play back in 2017, tallied two goals in the 3-3 draw against Portland. 
  • Douglas Costa recorded a goal and two assists and created a team-high four chances in 58 minutes of action. 
  • Costa, who has recorded one goal and nine assists in 859 regular-season minutes played this season, leads MLS with 0.94 assists per 90 minutes played (min. 650 minutes).
  • Raheem Edwards recorded his fourth assist and won nine possessions in the match against the Timbers. 

Next Game
Next up, the LA Galaxy travel to face Seattle Sounders FC at Lumen Field on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The match on Oct. 4kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcasted live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. 
2023 MLS Regular Season 
LA Galaxy (8-11-11, 35pts) vs. Portland Timbers (11-11-10, 43 pts)
Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 – Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles)

Goals by Half                1          2          F
LA Galaxy                     3          0          3
Portland Timbers           2          1          3

Scoring Summary:
POR: Moreno (Asprilla, Mora), 5
LA: Zavaleta (Costa), 10
POR: Own Goal (Zavaleta), 38
LA: Costa (Edwards), 43
LA: Zavaleta (Costa), 45+1
POR: Mora, 76

Misconduct Summary:
LA: Delgado (caution), 13
LA: Yoshida (caution), 54
POR: Moreno (caution), 62

LA: GK Jonathan Bond, D Mauricio Cuevas, D Eriq Zavaleta, D Maya Yoshida, D Raheem Edwards; M Mark Delgado (Daniel Aguirre, 68), M Edwin Cerrillo (Kelvin Leerdam, 83), M Uri Rosell, M Douglas Costa (Diego Fagundez, 58), M Tyler Boyd (Michael Barrios, 83); F Billy Sharp (Dejan Joveljić, 67)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Novak Mićović, D Tony Alfaro, D Julián Aude; M Jonathan Pérez

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Maya Yoshida, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Tyler Boyd, Eriq Zavaleta, 2); FOULS: 14 (Tyler Boyd, 3); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

POR: GK David Bingham; D Claudio Bravo (Eric Miller, 90+1), D Dario Zuparic, D Zac McGraw, D Juan Mosquera; M Bryan Acosta, M Cristhian Paredes (Noel Caliskan, 36), M Santiago Moreno; F Antony (Sebastian Blanco, 71), F Dairon Asprilla (Franck Boli, 71), F Felipe Mora © (Larrys Mabiala, 90+1)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Hunter Sulte; D Miguel Araujo; M Yimmi Chara, M Marvin Loria

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Felipe Mora, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Felipe Mora, 2); FOULS: 14 (Bryan Acosta, 3); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

Referee: Joe Dickerson
Assistant Referees: Jose Da Silva, Adam Garner
Fourth Official: Ricardo Fierro
VAR: Malik Badawi
Weather: Cloudy, 64 degrees
Attendance: 23,101

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

On what he’s not seeing on the defensive end, because scoring three goals should be enough to win the game:
“We are finding a lot of ways to concede goals. The first one, it was a turnover right in front of our backline. On that one, we’re playing too slow. I think we get caught in possession where we miss a short pass, and we do something, and we target right in front of us. When you lose balls right in front of us, sometimes they’ll take it. That’s their best strength is in the transition. They won the ball, and three passes later, they were into the danger spot and they finish on us. Sometimes, it’s us not taking care of the ball and it ending in the right now. They should have scored in the end for the same reason. We get stuck in possession in the middle of the field, right in front of our backline, and, quite frankly, we could have lost the game in that particular action. So, that’s sometimes. The second one, again, we’re in a bit of a defensive posture. The ball gets switched to the other side. We get beat in a 1-on-1 situation, but away from the goal, the backline steps to close, shot gets taken, deflects off of our guy, and it finds its way into the goal. That’s kind of the second one of those in probably three games that has deflected and found its way over the goalkeeper, or past the goalkeeper. So, it’s… again, can you stop it before you get into that type of situation, then you don’t live on some of the bad luck that you get when the ball deflects and it not going in and find its way in the goal. And the third one, again. I think we’re in possession and we lose possession in our half of the field. Turns into a transition where our right back is very high, our right side is pretty vacant. They find, I think it’s their left winger in that position, plays it across the top of the box for a shot, we block it, manage to squeak through a block into their guy, and it’s a finish. Again, all things matter. It’s how you lose the ball. Where you lose the ball. Your positioning and your cover when you lose the ball. Especially when you’re a possession-oriented team. Those things can put you in very bad situations if you lose the ball in bad ways, when your organization is poor when you do things like that. Sometimes it’s just poor defending. And, every now and then, you have to give credit to a team if they score a good goal. I think, for a lot of these, these are goals that we should be able to prevent with one of a few different ways in getting a little more solid with the ball, a little more organized, a little more collected with certain situations. It’s difficult. I say this every time. It’s difficult to win games when you have to score four to win games. And, that’s been a challenge for us. But, I mean, the amount of goals we’re scoring is certainly a positive. But, the amount of goals we’re conceding is just way too many.”

On something said the other day by Maya Yoshida in the group having a lack of concentration at key times: 
“Certainly at times, I think that’s a part of it. Again, if you switch off for just a second, or you think you’re comfortably in possession of the ball and then, boom, you’re not in possession, and you’ve switched off for a second, then you can get caught. You can ball watch. Lose track of a guy. I’ve seen that happen. Really fixated on the ball and how we’re going to deal the ball, and the guy pulls off of us, or finds a space that ends up hurting us. So, there’s a lot of details that go inside of these when you give up as many goals as we have over this stretch. There’s a lot of different ways and a lot of different errors that are coming inside of all that.”

On tonight’s result impacting the team in going from four points out of the playoff spot to six points out of the playoff spot, and what the team needs to do better in the next four games and what he sees as the biggest challenges within this: 
“I think you identified it. With every game that goes by and we end up with a draw, the margins get finer. It gets finer. We have two on the road now, which are going to be really difficult. And, so, we’ve got to go on the road and we’ve got to take points. At the end of the day, at this point, we’ve got to set ourselves up that the last home game against Dallas is going to be, and has to be, super meaningful. But there’s a lot of work inside of that that has to get done. And as a starting point, it’s the defending side of things. I think it’s very difficult to win games giving up our goals. The margins are really fine for us right now, but, there’s still a chance, so everybody is going to keep paddling and we’ll try to close our gaps as much as we can. And push for it.” 

On the physicality of corner kicks, and the ref pulling Eriq Zavaleta and Juan Mosquera aside, yet then Mosquera wraps himself around Zavaleta, and if this is a penalty kick in his perspective: 
“For me, the rules and what we hear about before every season is that holding in the box is something that we’re going to be cracking down on, that we’re going to be keeping an eye on, and every year, I think it disappears in the end. For me, it is. If you’re not paying any attention to the ball, and all you’re doing is face carding a player and wrapping your hands around him and holding him, for me, it’s a penalty. And that’s how it’s described to us at the beginning of the season. The defender has to be able to make a play on the ball, which means see the ball and make a play on the ball at the same time as you’re defending him. So, yes. But that’s getting into the least of our challenges right now it terms of what we need to do to win games. But, yes.” 
On how he felt wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, and the moment it was for him: 
“It was a big honor, to be honest, of course. This armband was taken by [David] Beckham, [Zlatan] Ibrahimović, [Steven] Gerrard and many big names. So, massive honor to be honest. But, of course, unfortunately we couldn’t’ get three points. I feel much more disappointment to be honest. Of course, we are missing the important players, so that’s why I took the armband, but my responsibility, my role, is nothing changed. Always on the pitch, off the pitch, try to lead the team, squad. So, it’s always… the armband makes me feel much the strength, strong, to make me hard work. So, it was really good. But, of course, with results, it would feel much better.” _

On the defensive performance by the team tonight, and the backline: 
“How can we stop conceding? It is the most difficult. That, for me… of course, we have spoken a lot this week in how to stop the goals and giving a goal so easily. Then, again, the first five minutes, we conceded. The second goal was a little bit unlucky. To be honest, of course we need to improve. For sure. Very clear. But, we have four games left, and the main target is go through to the playoff. It’s easy to point to each other. Your mistake. Your mistake. This is your responsibility. Yes, it’s easy, to blame each other. But, rather, I prefer, to start together, to work together. Hard working together. To avoid and reduce conceding the goal. Because, in only three days, you have to play against Seattle and then we go to Minnesota. This is a big week for us. So, again, rather than pointing at each other, I prefer to start together and improve ourselves. And improve individually, collectively, to reduce the conceding goal.” *

On coming back from injury:
_“I think that not just today but I think we've seen the change in the way we play and I think I'm playing well and things are showing up for me in terms of goals and assists and those are coming for me but I am sad we are also giving up a lot of goals and I guess we need to score more but I'm happy to be back today but sad that for the result."

On what the team's mindset needs to be as they fight for a playoff spot:
"The mindset needs to be focusing more on not giving up a lot of goals and continue to push forward. I think we have a good team and I would love to be successful with the Galaxy."

On if the team can sustain scoring two or more goals in their remaining games:
"I think we have a good team and not just the forwards are scoring but also defenders like [Eriq] Zavaleta today but in my opinion just like last year I think we are scoring a lot of goals from corner kicks or free kicks and we just have to continue like that and keep scoring if that is what is working and we are being successful at." 

On what the team has to do to get wins instead of draws:
"We have some errors that we have to clean up both with the ball and without the ball. I think sometimes we put ourselves in a bad situation with the ball and give ourselves difficult situations to deal with I think more difficult than people realize. Players and teams in this league are waiting for those moments and are very good to punish you in those moments and I think the first two goals were emblematic of A we have to clean that up and B we've got to be a bit stingier in the box to defend some of these plays out. We understand that you can't win games if you have to score three goals every time and we also understand that draws aren't going to get us where we want to be at this point. The boys are disappointed despite the two goals I'm also disappointed but we believe we can clean these things up and see what we have to do by the end of the year."_

On the lack of continuity in the back line:
"It's my first game that back four group, every ones first game playing together specifically with the four of us. I think back line, defending cohesion has a lot to do with it but I don't feel uncomfortable I feel very comfortable on the field, I feel very comfortable with Maya [Yoshida] and I have a good young player next to me in Mauri [Mauricio Cuevas] who is growing into himself every day and is only getting better and just needs the games to continue to get better so patchwork if you will… I think this fan base should be proud and respect the fact that they still have some players here who we've gone through I think five or six center backs and you still have guys out there who can do the job and who are giving everything they can to do the job. It is not easy to do it but this is not a group that likes to make excuses and we won't be doing that tonight." 

On the backline conceding multiple goals in the last few games:
_"Let me start by saying that this is not a back line issue. If you are watching these games again if you turn balls over in front of the back line you can't just point to the back line and say hey this is your problem. It's not right, it's not fair, it's not football and so this is a full eleven issue and this is something we talk about before the game and after the game. Eleven guys attack and eleven guys defend. I'm a defender I scored two goals tonight does that mean our attack was on fire tonight? Maybe not necessarily but again we need to do a better job of defending play higher up the field so the balls don't get into our box and we don't have so many plays to deal with but we also need to do a better of cleaning the plays up in the back so yeah can we be better as a back four or a back five with the goalie? Yeah but we need to be better as an eleven if we have any chance to do what we want to do this year."