Portland have gone unbeaten in eight consecutive matches, while LA are barely holding on to a postseason spot, currently in sixth, but only two points above the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are eighth.
While Portland appear to be heading to the playoffs, making the postseason for the first time since 2019 is anything but a guarantee for Greg Vanney and the Galaxy.
Last weekend they fought their way back from an early 1-0 deficit but could not generate a lot of quality scoring chances after that, firing just a single shot on target, despite having 64% of the possession.
Winless in nine consecutive fixtures, this team need some motivation from somewhere as their comfortable position in the Western Conference has changed dramatically since the middle of August.
LA have cooled off at home lately, going winless in their last five contests played at Dignity Health Tennis Center after failing to win only three of their previous 12 matches at home before that stretch.
They ended a three-game losing streak versus Portland earlier this year, with a 4-1 victory against them at the end of July, but this team have only won one league match since then, scoring multiple goals just once in their last nine fixtures.
With only six games remaining for them, the next week could determine their season, as they follow up this fixture with two matches against non-playoff sides (Dallas and the Houston Dynamo), before finishing the year with a demanding schedule, facing Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders on the road and wrapping things up by hosting Minnesota United, who are just a point behind them at the moment.
Given their consistent form of late, Giovanni Savarese probably wishes that the international break could have come at a different time as his Timbers are showing that they are a formidable side who will be difficult to knock off.
The MLS is Back tournament winners from a season ago have been good in every aspect of the game, particularly in the final third with at least a goal in 18 consecutive fixtures, the longest active streak in the league.
They have scored first in seven of their previous eight games, so it should come as no surprise that they have come away with points in every one of those matches, seeing as they are 13-1-1 this year when scoring first.
This club have captured four straight wins away from home, the first time they have been able to do that in team history.
Their recent hot streak has provided them with plenty of breathing room in the Western Conference standings, currently holding a nine-point cushion over Vancouver.
The Timbers have gone from a team battling for a postseason berth to being one of the teams to beat, with a chance to finish in the top four of the Western Conference, currently sitting seven points above fifth-place Real Salt Lake.
Samuel Grandsir scored the equaliser in their last match versus Los Angeles FC, his third of the campaign, while Victor Vazquez collected his fourth assist on that play as he is just one shy of the team lead, currently held by Julian Araujo, and Chicharito has only scored once in his last four games.
Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored his second goal of the season, which held up as the winner against Miami, as the Timbers striker has 14 total shots in his MLS career, with nine of those strikes finding the back of the net.
Yimmi Chara, who has been a critical contributor for Portland this year, created five scoring chances for his side against the Herons, Steve Clark made five saves for his fifth clean sheet this year and Felipe Mora fired a team-high five shots on target.
Ismaila Jome is gone for the year after undergoing left Achilles tendon surgery, Jeff Attinella is also out following his right rectus femoris surgery, Andy Polo underwent season-ending right quad and knee surgery, Eryk Williamson continues to miss time with a right ACL tear, while Sebastian Blanco came on as a substitute against Miami despite previously suffering a knee injury.
Los Angeles Galaxy possible starting lineup:
Bond; Araujo, Coulibaly, DePuy, Hamalainen; Dos Santos, Raveloson; Lletget, Vazquez, Grandsir; Chicharito
Portland Timbers possible starting lineup:
Clark; Van Rankin, Mabiala, Zuparic, Bravo; Blanco, Asprilla, D. Chara, Paredes; Mora, Y. Chara
We say: Los Angeles Galaxy 1-2 Portland Timbers
Chicharito has to feel like the weight of expectation is squarely on his shoulders as the Galaxy striker is the only one who seems capable of finding the back of the net consistently for this team.
The Timbers are finally hitting their stride and have shown a lot of class in recent weeks, and they should be able to key on Chicharito knowing that the Galaxy do not possess many other goalscoring threats.
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