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.