Carlos Vela Challenges For A Ball Against POR Defender 190310 IMG

Preview | LAFC at Portland Timbers 6/1/19

Ever crashed a party? How about showing up with 500 or so of your closest friends?

The Portland Timbers are planning a big party on Saturday night in their newly renovated home. LAFC and its Supporters have other ideas.

"Portland is counting on a celebration," Bob Bradley said after training on Thursday. "We need to find a way to take it all in and play the way we always play."

The way LAFC has played since arriving in MLS last season has a lot of teams playing catchup.

The Black & Gold are six points clear of their nearest competitor in the league through 15 matches. They hold a goal differential (+25) better than the other 11 teams in the Western Conference combined. And since the start of the 2018 season, LAFC's 91 points are third-best behind just the defending Supporters' Shield winner New York Red Bulls and the MLS Cup holders Atlanta United (both on 92 points).

Headed to Portland in the midst of a seven-match unbeaten streak - and with over 500 Supporters in tow - LAFC is looking to have a party of its own. 

Here's a look at LAFC's trip to take on the Timbers in Portland:

LAFC at Portland Timbers | June 1 at 7:30pm PT

Where To Watch

TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980

Official LAFC Watch Part: The Parlor in Hollywood

Opponent Form

The Timbers got off to a rocky start in 2019. Without a win in the first six matches to start the season, Gio Savarese righted the ship by reverting back to the counterattacking style that got Portland to the MLS Cup final last season. Since the change, the Timbers have won four of their last six matches, including a 3-1 win away to the Philadelphia Union in the team's final road match before coming home to reopen Providence Park.

What The Team Is Saying

Walker Zimmerman on how to approach away matches: "The biggest thing for us is making sure we're not overly exposing ourselves too early in the game. We're a really good team throughout 90 minutes, we're an even better team when we score first. It makes it a little bit harder when teams get the first goal on us because it allows them to maybe sit back a little bit more, block some passing lanes, and sit in a lower block. I think the earlier we break teams down from that block by scoring a goal, the better the game is going to be for us."

Diego Rossi on facing Portland in the Timber's first home match of 2019: "It's going to be a hard game. They are motivated, and we know that. It's going to be a great night and we are going to show our football."

LAFC Projected Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Tristan Blackmon; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

What To Watch For

Big Match Atmosphere: After 12 away matches to start the season, the Timbers are finally home. There's been plenty written about the atmosphere at Providence Park since Portland's arrival in MLS. The addition of 4,000 seats and the resulting enclosure of even more of the stadium means it will be that much louder. Add 500 LAFC Supporters to the mix and this match should have the ambiance of a final. 

Can Anybody Stop Him?: Carlos Vela has all but wrapped up the MLS MVP award in just 15 matches. The LAFC captain has 15 goals and nine assist this season - both tops in MLS. His 24 combined goals and assists in the first 15 matches to start a season set a new standard in the MLS record books. And he's scored in each of his last four matches. Teams have keyed in on Vela all season with little success. He scored one of his trademark curlers at Providence Park last season. Will Portland have the solution the rest of the league has been lacking this season?

Brian Fernandez Enjoying Life In MLS: The Timbers bet big on Argentine designated player Brian Fernandez in the 2019 primary transfer window. Breaking the club's previous transfer record, the Timbers brought the Necaxa forward to the Pacific Northwest and he hasn't disappointed. Fernandez has three goals in his first two matches with the Timbers. He's a player that thrives on open spaces behind an opponent's backline and makes disorganized defenses pay. Portland will look to get Fernandez running at the LAFC defense every chance they get in transition. Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura will need to keep close tabs on Fernandez from the opening whistle.