With the LA Galaxy about to take on the Portland Timbers this Saturday, I fielded the customary three questions with SB Nation Timbers blog Stumptown Footy. They asked about Galaxy fan confidence in the upcoming match, why it kicks off so early, and how key the defense has been to the recent success.
1. Monday's destruction of the Seattle Sounders at CentruyLink Field means the LA Galaxy will easily rout the Portland Timbers on Saturday morning, right?
The LA Galaxy team on national TV routing the Seattle Sounders was really making its MLS debut. It's the first time in months the three DPs have been on the field together and this new goal poaching version of Gyasi Zardes is a fairly recent discovery. Seattle had a fairly significant late scratch on the back line, and the result was an attack which took advantage of every Seattle mistake and gave the Sounders few chances to get back into the match.
It's a fair bet that LA can do the same Saturday morning, as Seattle didn't get the best performance from Robbie Keane and still gave up three goals. Portland's lack of back line consistency tips this one is LA's favor, but I would never doubt the Timbers' magic draw earning power against the Galaxy.
2. Why is this game at 11:30 in the morning?
This match is going to be a rare unicorn indeed, the MLS match broadcast nationally on NBC. With NBC Sports preferring to do a half hour of pre-match work before kickoff, this one likely doesn't actually kick off until noon, so the it shouldn't run over onto local broadcast news on the East Coast. Kick off an hour later and suddenly WNBC local news is sitting their twiddling their thumbs. And we can't have that.
The NBC broadcast is tricker than one might think. With the NFL, the rules are so convoluted that which match gets broadcast is determined on a station by station basis and changes throughout the week. Soccer is more like the NBA with one game across the country, but with less interest there have been several instances of local stations choosing to broadcast local programming instead.
Which is all to say, some folk may tune in to watch MLS on NBC only to be treated to an informercial for the Ronco Food Dehydrator. If that's the case, be sure to pick one up. Fresh jerky!
3. Portland is the only team to score twice against the Galaxy since April 19 and one of only two all season. The attacking quality in LA always gets the press but is the defense actually the key to this year's team?
Absolutely, which is especially remarkable when one considers the long absence of Omar Gonzalez. LA have used a rotating combination of A.J. DeLaGarza, Tommy Meyer, Kofi Opare, and Leonardo over the past few months at center back and still have a notable defensive record to hang their hats on. Todd Dunivant and Jamey Riley have been historical figures all season, and yet they've have a revelation in Robbie Rogers the left back and a career year from Dan Gargan.
It's been held together with spit and bailing wire, but somehow its held a league low goals against average. With Gonzalez returning against Seattle and DeLaGarza back as his center back partner the two of them can control balls in the air (Gonzalez) and those who wish to stretch them on the ground (DeLaGarza). It works well.
Bonus: I love bonuses!
Known Absences: Jorge Campos
XI: Penedo; Gargan, Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Rogers; Ishizaki, Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Zardes