LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers: Three Things to Watch

During midweek action, the LA Galaxy fell to FC Dallas by a final score of 3-2. Despite being up a man for 10 minutes, the Galaxy were unable to muster a comeback. This weekend, Sigi Schmid and company will look to get back in the win column. They battle the Portland Timbers at Providence Park. Here are four things to watch ahead of this match.

Things to Watch

1. Ibrahimovic

The big Swede made quite the statement in his return to the pitch on Wednesday night. Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted both goals in the losing effort. What that signifies, though, is just how important Ibrahimovic is to the offense.

Ibrahimovic makes goal scoring look easy. Take his first goal, for example.

Zlatan first goal

Romain Alessandrini found Ibrahimovic streaking into the penalty area. The 36-year-old used his favored right foot and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner. This goal showed his ability to strike from anywhere on the pitch, even from a tight angle.

Now for the second goal.

Zlatan second goal

This goal, for Zlatan, was more about being in the right spot at the right time. Chris Pontius did well to win a header inside the box. The ball fell perfectly to the feet of Ibrahimovic, who made no mistake from seven yards out.

It’s not only a testament to Ibrahimovic’s ability, but the Galaxy’s game plan as well. Find him and good things are going to happen.

Without Ola Kamara this weekend, look for the ball to find the feet (or head) of Ibrahimovic even more.

2. Filling the Kamara Sized Void

With Kamara on international duty, Schmid is will be making some adjustments to his starting XI this week.

But this is also a big loss for the offense. Kamara had scored goals in four of the last six matches. Losing that goal scoring ability would be tough for any side.

Ola Kamara
Image via Jen Flores | LA Sports Access

What, though, will he do about the left side of the pitch? Is the veteran Chris Pontius going to slide into this role or will Schmid opt for Emmanuel Boateng?

Let’s dive into these two options a little more.

Chris Pontius

In 12 matches played so far this season, Pontius has scored once and assisted on another goal. The Yorba Linda native is not all that quick down the flanks, but does link up with teammates well enough. Pontius would rather play a quick pass than try to float a cross into the box, which could be an issue.

That might be a reason to leave him on the bench for this contest at least. If Ola Kamara were starting up top, that could have been a different story. Kamara is more mobile than Ibrahimovic and would have been able to link up easier.

Emmanuel Boateng

The Ghanaian born speedster this season has four assists to his name in 567 minutes according to whoscored.com. What may be the difference in this selection is the pace Boateng brings.

He can use his pace to beat the Timbers back line. Portland’s defense has been known to give up a goal or two. So far, they’ve allowed 17 goals, two of those to the Galaxy back in the first match of the season.

Who will start on Saturday afternoon? Odds are that Schmid will point to Pontius to get the starting nod for the first 70 minutes of play. As the Timbers begin to tire, look for Boateng to bring a burst of energy to provide an extra spark.

3. Defensive Selections

We know about the defensive issues from the last game. Daniel Steres at right back was the wrong choice. Tomas Hilliard-Arce, with only Jørgen Skjelvik next to him, was the wrong choice. Leaving Dave Romney on the bench was the wrong choice.

What should the back four look like against the Portland Timbers?

Ashley Cole should definitely retain his left back position, especially since there isn’t a better option right now. Michael Ciani and Jørgen Skjelvik should line up next to each other; they were developing good chemistry this past month. Finally, Romney should take over that right back position. He’s been one of the best defenders this season and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t start.

We’re not saying that this back four will record a clean sheet on the road. But it should definitely look better than the one that played against Dallas on Wednesday.

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