Timbers-Galaxy Preview

Despite the absence of three pivotal offensive players, the Los

Angeles Galaxy managed to wrap up their longest road stretch of the

season in successful fashion.

The Galaxy could have all three players back on the field during

their return home Saturday night but won’t have one of their

starting defenders for the first matchup with the expansion

Portland Timbers, who are seeking a third consecutive victory and

their first away from home.

Los Angeles captain Landon Donovan sat out all three road

matches as he nursed an inflamed right knee. The Galaxy (3-1-3)

also didn’t have star midfielder David Beckham and leading goal

scorer Juninho for last week’s game against Chicago with each

serving one-game league suspensions.

Beckham picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in a

scoreless draw versus Toronto FC on April 13, and Juninho was given

a red card in that match. The Galaxy were also without Jovan

Kirovski, who was suspended an additional match after being given a

red card for arguing with the referee in their 1-all draw with D.C.

United on April 9.

Despite those absences, the Galaxy had their best scoring

performance of the season in a 2-1 victory. Former Fire player Chad

Barrett tallied the opening goal, and defender Omar Gonzalez got a

key score in the 72nd minute.

“We had to dig down deep,” Barrett told the team’s website.

“Everybody did a great job.”

Extending their unbeaten streak to four games (2-0-2), however,

came at a price as central defender Leonardo tore two ligaments in

his right knee and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Former MLS rookie of the year Sean Franklin or A.J. DeLaGarza is

expected to take Leonardo’s spot for this game, while veteran Gregg

Berhalter is still at least two weeks away from fully recovering

from a knee injury.

“(Leonardo is) a great, young defender and losing someone like

him kind of hurts our team,” Franklin told the team’s website.

The Galaxy, though, got some good news as Donovan returned to

practice this week and is expected to play. They might need their

captain’s help against a Portland team that’s gained some

confidence after two high-scoring performances in its first home

games in franchise history.

Jorge Perlaza scored twice as the Timbers (2-2-1) recorded a 4-2

win over Chicago in their debut at Jeld-Wen Field on April 14.

Three days later, Portland built an early three-goal lead and hung

on for a 3-2 victory over FC Dallas.

Jack Jewsbury, Rodney Wallace and Kenny Cooper each scored their

second goals of the season in that game. The team had two goals

during its first three games.

“Our mentality is we’re going to go into the Home Depot Center

and try to win,” coach John Spencer said. “We’re not going to be

scared to attack because we have nothing to be scared of.”

The trip to Carson, Calif., represents the closest road game

thus far for the Timbers, who traveled to Colorado, Toronto and New

England in their first three contests.