Timbers V Galaxy Too Tight To Call
Portland v Los Angeles
Five-time MLS cup winners and reigning champions Los Angeles Galaxy visit the Portland Timbers on Sunday night’s late offering from the US.
The Timbers had to settle for a point in their season opener against Real Salt Lake last Saturday after playing out a scoreless draw in a scrappy affair at Providence Park. The hosts marginally had the better of proceedings, although despite their failure to get a winning start the result did create a club record for clean sheets going back to last season and stretching over four games and just six shy of 400 minutes of league action.
Head coach Caleb Porter has now watched his side go unbeaten in five including their results from last term, when they were narrowly edged out for a playoff spot by just a point after finishing sixth in the Western Conference.
LA Galaxy continued where they left off last season in their opening outing of the new campaign as they began the defence of their MLS Cup crown with a routine 2-0 win over Chicago Fire last Friday. Midfielder Jose Villarreal scored the season’s first goal when he capitalized on a defensive mix-up to make it 1-0 with a neat left-footed finish before Robbie Keane wrapped up the points when the man named last season’s most valuable player netted a late second.
The Galaxy have now won four and lost only one of their last six although even that defeat was of little consequence as they still grabbed the away goal in last season’s 2-1 playoff semi-final loss to Seattle Sounders to a reach a third final in four years on away goals en route to winning a record fifth title.
The Timbers are without long-term absentees Ben Zemanski and Diego Valeri after both suffered cruciate knee ligament injuries last season with Will Johnson also out as he continues his recovery from a broken leg. Diego Chara is a minor doubt with a calf problem but former Premier League defender Liam Ridgewell should line-out at centre-back.
Bruce Arena should have a full squad to choose from with no injuries reported to disrupt the LA Galaxy coach’s plans, and he’s likely to stick with the same starting XI again.
Head to Head
Keane grabbed a brace when the sides last met as the Galaxy went on to claim a 3-1 victory in the StubHub centre in Los Angeles last August.
That said, they’ve generally found the Timbers a tough nut to crack in recent years, as that’s the only win they’ve managed over Portland in the last five.
The Timbers had won two home meetings in a row in this fixture before the last clash in Oregan ended 1-1 in May last year with Keane again on the scoresheet. Despite the Irish striker’s opener coming in injury-time there was still time for Valeri to grab an equalizer for Portland with the last kick of the game in the 95th minute.
With the hosts in the middle of a record-breaking run of shut-outs this is a game where under 2.5 goals stands out even though they’re facing their biggest test they’ve faced over that period, with the evens available too good to ignore. When there’s so little between the sides in the match betting market – Portland are 6/4 with Galaxy at 8/5 – backing a draw is often worth the extra reward on offer and at 12/5 it’s well worth getting on board with here too.