Since LAFC’s inaugural season in 2018, there is a Western Conference opponent that is not located in Los Angeles that has emerged as an intense, heated match-up for the Black & Gold. The Portland Timbers have proven to be a tough and difficult rival for LAFC – and the 11 overall matches between them have been high-drama affairs. The previous match-up on July 21 did not disappoint, with the Timbers securing the win in the final seconds.
Now, the two Club’s face-off in a massive match-up, separated by just one point in the standing with 10 games remaining.
The all-time series is riddled with memorable moments – and Sunday’s high stakes match-up is sure to produce some more.
Let’s take a look at our five favorite moments below:
LAFC’s First-Ever Win vs Portland
US Open Cup Quarterfinals - 7/18/18
LAFC 3-2 Portland
The Black & Gold had a lot of great moments in their inaugural season, but their first two performances against the then-reigning Western Conference champion Timbers were forgettable. LAFC lost the first matchup 2-1, and then drew 0-0 at Banc of California Stadium. Just a few days after that tie, LAFC faced Portland for the third time in 2018 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals.
After a scoreless first half, LAFC struck first on an own goal from Portland’s David Guzman, then LAFC got rolling with Carlos Vela scoring in the 38th minute in his first U.S. Open Cup appearance and Marco Ureña tallying his first-ever LAFC goal in the 51st minute to cement the winner and push LAFC into its first-ever US Open Cup Semifinal.
Carlos Vela’s MLS Player of The Week Performance
LAFC 4-1 Portland
As LAFC kicked off its second season in 2019, expectations for the Club were high, but no one could predict the heights the second-year team and its captain, Carlos Vela would hit. After a close, stoppage-time victory in the season-opener vs. Kansas City, the second match of the season vs. Portland would set the tone for a dominating, historic season.
Carlos Vela showed up strong with his first points on the year, providing a goal and two assists in the 4-1 victory. Vela earned MLS Player of the Week honors for the performance, his first step in the journey that ultimately netted him MVP honors, a Golden Boot and MLS records in most goals by a single player (34) and most combined goals and assists by a single player (34 / 15).
LAFC Spoils Portland’s Grand Re-Opening of Providence Park
LAFC 3-2 Portland
Providence Park and the loud Timbers Army that fills it up are widely regarded as one of the premier destinations for the beautiful game in the U.S., and in late 2019 the stadium underwent expansions and improvements, not to mention adding an extra 4,000 seats to pack in more of the Portland faithful. LAFC was given the VIP invite to take on the Timbers in their grand-reopening of the park in June, and used some incredible individual performances to spoil the home fans party both on and off the field.
LAFC fans arrived to the city in droves. “Over the last few days, hundreds of LAFC fans took to the streets, visually captivating the city of Portland,” said LAFC lead broadcaster Max Bretos. The Timbers didn’t fare much better on the pitch either, as LAFC got vintage goals from Vela, Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing to help pull out the win.
We’ll give credit where credits due as well, Portland’s Brian Fernandes scored an unreal bicycle kick in the 84th minute to give the home side a fighting chance, but the Timbers still ended the match down one at 3-2.
Christian Torres Becomes the First LAFC Academy Player to Score for the First Team
LAFC 1-1 Portland
In a difficult 2020 season that caused LAFC to utilize much of its deep roster, one of the young players who seized their opportunity was Homegrown player and former LAFC Academy member Christian Torres. Torres made his MLS debut on Oct. 11, 2020 against the Sounders and earned his first start on Oct. 14 vs. Vancouver to become the youngest player to start a game in 2020 at 16 years, 183 days old.
Torres was not done making history, however, as just four days after his first start he entered the match in the second-half in Portland looking to find an equalizer. Forced to play without eight regular starters due to injury and international duty, LAFC trailed the Timbers 1-0 with time winding down.
In stoppage time with the referee about to end the match, Torres scored on a beautiful strike to tie the game and become the first LAFC Academy product to score a goal and the fifth-youngest player to score a goal in MLS history.
DIEGO ROSSI LOCKS IN THE 2020 GOLDEN BOOT
LAFC 1, Portland 1
Another bright spot in the 2020 season was Diego Rossi’s Golden Boot-winning campaign that saw him push for the honor amidst all the challenges 2020 brought.
This season finale of a difficult season was more memorable for what happened at the final whistle than anything that happened on the pitch. As the regular season came to a close – it marked Rossi officially locking in the Golden Boot.
“Since the start of the pandemic, I made it a point to be mentally strong,” Rossi said. “I also made sure to be in shape and ready to play, especially since we didn’t know when we would begin playing again. It was always that positive mentality to continue working hard throughout the year.”
At 22-years-old, Rossi became the youngest Golden Boot winner in MLS history, and he clinched the award with a career-high .737 goals per-game average.
Rossi has scored two goals vs. Portland in his career in regular season action.