The LA Galaxy are on their way up to Portland for tomorrow's match against the Portland Timbers. The Timbers are several short of their full roster, while LA is missing one key piece. Who steps up in these absences could be the determining factor. Robbie Keane also has to keep up the form he's shown since returning for international duty.
Roster construction for LA should be easy compared to the Timbers. The Galaxy are currently without any injury concerns and could trot out the same lineup for a third consecutive match. The only concern is whether to stick with Gyasi Zardes or to give Jose Villarreal a shot up top. Hector Jimenez stepped up on Sunday against FC Dallas, and if he continues to show that ability in Donovan's absence it'll be great for the club.
The international absences for the Timbers are a complicated bunch. Will Johnson missed Canada's loss last night to Mexico with an illness, returning to Portland early. Canada is still technically alive in the tournament, and Johnson could rejoin them in Denver. Frederic Piquionne on the other hand has returned to the Timbers early from duty with Martinique, even though Martinique could still technically make the quarterfinals. Rodney Wallace is still with Costa Rica.
So of the three Piquionne is the only one technically available Saturday and even that's questionable. He did after all participate in two matches this week, and returning early with the knockout round a real possibility likely means an injury.
The Timbers also have to replace defender Pa Modou Kah who earned a red card in the Timbers' last match . That's a significant amount of replacements needed, and will certainly be a challenge to Caleb Porter.
The Who Scored match forecast has three very likely events for the match, all of which favor LA. The Timbers are listed as very weak at defending set pieces and stopping opponents from creating chances. Attacking set pieces and creating scoring chances happen to be two LA strengths.
The Timbers also tend to stray offside, so expect the Galaxy to play the high line. With the Timbers' midfield absences, it could be harder to maintain their high possession style. Even though they're at home, a match similar to the one played in Los Angeles county a month ago isn't out of the question.
This time around, LA will have to put away their chances.