LAFC vs Portland Timbers
Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021
TV: Bally’s Sports SoCal, Estrella 62.2 KRCA
RADIO: 1110 AM ESPN, ESPN App (Audio), KFWB 980 AM
It was just 10 days ago that LAFC travelled to Portland to face the Timbers, riding a three-game winning streak and looking to solidify their place in the MLS Western Conference Playoff race. But after a tough 2-1 loss to the Timbers and a 2-0 defeat in San Jose, the Black & Gold return home to Banc of California Stadium looking outside of the playoff picture and in desperate need of a big win against one of their toughest opponents.
“It means that there is still a lot to play for,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “We understand that. We have been talking about the fact that all the games now are going to be playoff type games with a lot on the line. We have a strong understanding of what every game is going to be about and we need to have the right mentality to win tight and tough games.”
The Timbers enter this crucial match-up flying, riding a six-game unbeaten streak and fresh of a 6-1 thrashing of Real Salt Lake on Sept. 25.
“Portland has played very well of late,” Bradley said. “We’ve had two tough games in Portland. I think we’ve played well there, but we know every game with Portland is going to be very competitive and now we have the chance at home for us, following a disappointing loss in San Jose.”
LAFC All-Star midfielder Eduard Atuesta has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle and could make a return vs. Portland, while Brian Rodriguez was sidelined in the last match in San Jose with a hamstring strain and remains questionable.
Portland likes to play defensive-first approach, starting with a mid or a low block and taking advantage of mistakes in transition. The Timbers are a veteran team led by Diego Valeri and Diego Chara, and are expected to have experienced players throughout their starting 11 on Wednesday. Portland has recently received strong contributions from players such as Dairon Asprilla, and Felipe Mora has continued to be very dangerous around the goal. Mora leads Portland with 10 goals, and Asprilla has netted five.
Against the San Jose Earthquakes, LAFC once again came out of a game besting their opponent in the expected goal stat category, while not actually converting on those big opportunities. The Black & Gold leads MLS in expected goals – and is hoping a return to the Banc will help their finishing touch around the box.
“We’ve had chances against them and didn’t do well enough to score,” Bradley said about his teams two previous matches vs. The Timbers. “That has really been the story of our season. We know that most games we still create a lot of chances and we are hard to play against, but we have to do better with the moments that come our way. We don’t give away much, but still defensively by making some mistakes and just not making that big defensive play or save, we have hurt ourselves.”
LAFC WILL WIN IF
They can win in the midfield and finish off their scoring chances. Against a Timbers team playing with a low defensive block, LAFC will need to be good in transition and move the ball quickly forward.
PORTLAND CAN WIN IF
They find success crossing the ball. The Timbers don’t generate a ton of scoring opportunities historically, but they are strong in crossing the ball – and have been absolutely lethal with their scoring during their unbeaten run. Felipe Mora is the game changer– and LAFC will need to limit his chances.
Inspired by Point Blank (1967).