CARSON, CA - APRIL 23: Members of the Portland Timbers huddle prior to their MLS match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center on April 23, 2011 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated the Timbers 3-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Ahead of every LA Galaxy game, we exchange questions or interview the SBNation blog of the week's opponent. That means this week we've got some questions for Stumptown Footy, the SBNation Portland Timbers blog. They had some questions for me too, and you can see my answers over on their blog either later today or tomorrow morning at the latest. So let's just right into it:
LAG Conf: The Portland Timbers have equalled their worst losing streak from last year, what's happening up there?
Stumptown Footy: Honestly? It's quite the mystery! On paper the Timbers did everything right during the off season. They added tons of depth, lost the dead weight, and kept the core team. It should have gone pretty smoothly. Unfortunately, a series of injuries has created some serious kinks in the defense, marred by some terrible play, particularly on the back wings.
I think, and hope, the biggest issue now is just injuries and once we get our center back defense in order things will fall into place, but there are still some key players who aren't performing as needed... particularly our captain Jack Jewsbury who played probably his worst game against Chivas USA.
LAG Conf: In the case of that Chivas game as well as against Real Salt Lake, the game was there for the taking and was let slip away. The Galaxy mental makeup is being questioned, should Portlands?
Stumptown Footy: Yes. Absolutely. The team hasn't shown yet this season that they can go a full game without being scored against, which I think says something. In the case of the Chivas USA game, it was the first game in which the Timbers didn't give up the first goal which is an improvement, I guess... although the loss still hurts.
Taking a step back and looking at the broader picture, however, definitely shows that the team is still struggling with the same issues they had last season at this time where they lack the mental fortitude to really play for the entire 90 minutes. It's been a hugely consistent problem and, at this point, the excuses for it are starting to run a bit thin.
LAG Conf: Should Songo'o be starting? If he stays in the starting 11, does that fix some of Portland's issues?
Stumptown Footy: Hmmm good question. He has the skill to, no doubt about it. Unfortunately his fitness just isn't where we need it to be just yet. As we saw against Chivas USA is had to get pulled out in the 60th-some odd minute due to some issues with his hamstring. He was also looking a little gassed by then. So I believe he should be starting eventually, but at the moment he's probably best used as a super substitute of sorts until he can go a full 90 without needing to get pulled out. That said, we're all very excited to see what he can do this season. His vision in the game is unmatched by anybody else on the Timbers.
No. I don't think so. The primary issues right now are the back wing positions and the center mid positions (mostly Jewsbury). The Timbers' current wingers (some combination of Darlington Nagbe, Kalif Alhassan, Eric Alexander, and Franck Songo'o) has actually worked out very well when we needed it to.
LAG Conf: Go ahead, give me your 11 and we'll get you on out of here