Timbers want to stay on a roll vs. Galaxy

ByReuters ESPN logo
Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Portland Timbers will try to inch closer to securing a playoff spot when they visit the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday in Carson, Calif.

The Timbers (11-11-9, 42 points) have won four straight and find themselves seventh in the Western Conference, tied in points with the sixth-place Vancouver Whitecaps and one point behind Real Salt Lake and the Houston Dynamo. They're also a point up on the San Jose Earthquakes in eighth place and two ahead of FC Dallas, who own the final playoff spot.

Portland has made its way above the playoff line thanks to a 5-1-1 run under interim coach Miles Joseph. Portland has won four straight and scored multiple goals in each win, the longest streak of its kind in the club's MLS history.

"It's nice to be in the mix right now," Joseph said. "... The big thing is, we know it's going to go down to the last week so I think the mentality is just to stick to what we're doing and one game at a time is the most important thing right now."

The Timbers could be without Evander for the match. The dynamic midfielder missed their last outing, a 3-2 win against the Colorado Rapids, due to a calf injury and didn't train much this week. He leads the club with nine goals and had scored in four of his past six matches.

The Galaxy (8-11-10, 34 points) are hoping to move closer to playoff contention. Currently 13th in the Western Conference with five games remaining, they're six points behind Dallas and seven back of San Jose, with a match in hand on Dallas and two on the Earthquakes.

Los Angeles has rallied in each of its past two matches to secure points, turning a 3-1 deficit against Austin FC into a 3-3 draw in their last outing and coming back from the same deficit against Minnesota United for a 4-3 victory on Sept. 20.

But while the club has found its scoring touch -- they've scored nine goals in their past three matches -- it's been a struggle at the other end of the pitch, conceding 10.

"Always chasing games makes things difficult," coach Greg Vanney said. "Having to score four goals to win a game is going to be a really difficult feat. We have to be able to win games 1-0, 2-1, like that, 2-0 would be nice and that would come from us being more stable on the defensive side."

Forward Billy Sharp has been on a roll of late, with five goals in his past four matches, including a hat trick against Minnesota.

As of Friday afternoon, the status of star midfielder Riqui Puig was unknown. The 24-year-old sustained an ankle injury against Austin. He didn't train Thursday but was scheduled to participate on Friday.

--Field Level Media