PORTLAND, Ore.—LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s match against the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field.
EXPECT A HIGH TEMPO AFFAIR AT JELD-WEN FIELD
Last month, the Portland Timbers and the LA Galaxy played to a scoreless stalemate that saw few scoring chances, but neither team will be expecting the same on Saturday at JELD-WEN Field.
Whereas both teams kept a defensive posture at StubHub Center, the victor on Saturday will likely be the team that can handle the fast pace tempo that is expected in Portland. Fueled by the raucous crowd and a quick playing surface, the possession-oriented Timbers will seek to build attacks through the center of the park and find forwards Darlington Nagbe and Ryan Johnson in hopes of creating chances.
Look for Marcelo Sarvas to play an important role in the Galaxy’s game plan as his role in winning possession and starting counterattacks will be key as the Timbers try to set the tempo. If LA can utilize the Brazilian and break up any forays forward by the Timbers, they’ll not only control possession, but also create opportunities and place pressure on former Galaxy ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts.
WHO FILLS IN WITH THE TIMBERS?
The play of Will Johnson and Rodney Wallace has been paramount to the Portland Timbers' success this season, but with the pair on international duty, others must step up on Saturday.
Against the Galaxy, the Timbers will be relying on the duo of Ben Zemanski and Diego Chara to do the heavy lifting in central midfield. Two midfielders were active during Portland’s 1-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew last week, a game that saw the Timbers play down a man for nearly 80 minutes. Zemanski frequently drifted out wide to cover Wallace’s position on the left while Chara stayed central, filling Johnson’s role. Although this partnership was effective defensively, the Timbers will need the pair to become more active in the attack if they are to defeat LA.
The Timbers will have one of their three players who were away from international duty back on Saturday as forward Frédéric Piquionne has re-joined the club from Martinique’s Gold Cup campaign. His inclusion is a major boost for Portland as he been one of the Timbers primary distributors this season with four assists in league play on the year to go along with six goals in all competitions. However, he will likely be used only in a reserve capacity, particularly after playing 80 minutes for Martinique in their match against Panama on Friday.
THE INCREASED PRESENCE OF THE WINGERS VITAL FOR LA
For years the LA Galaxy have searched for a consistent presence out on the flanks, but over the last few matches, head coach Bruce Arena has seen plenty of production from his wingers.
During the Galaxy’s recent run of three wins in four games, both Robbie Rogers and Hector Jimenez have been effective as they’ve repeatedly created scoring opportunities using their pace and crossing abilities. This production can be seen on the stat sheet as Jimenez has scored twice in three games while Rogers earned his first assist in last weekend’s victory over FC Dallas.
Production from the wide players will be vital for this up-tempo match as the Galaxy will look to utilize Rogers and Jimenez to pressure outside backs Michael Harrington and Jack Jewsbury. Although both are experienced players, they struggled with the pace of the Columbus Crew attack during Portland’s defeat last week. Look for Rogers and Jimenez to press the pair from the outset with their speed in hopes of creating chances for LA’s forwards and themselves.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com