Timbers-Galaxy Preview

Giovani Dos Santos appears to be healthy now, and the Los Angeles Galaxy look to be at full strength as the playoffs near.

The Portland Timbers are just hoping to reach the postseason.

The Galaxy are unbeaten in their last eight home games and have never lost there to the Timbers ahead of Sunday’s key Western Conference clash.

Dos Santos missed last Saturday’s CONCACAF Cup for Mexico with a strained adductor, but has returned to training and expects to play Sunday.

Los Angeles (14-9-9) can clinch a first-round bye and the West’s No. 2 seed with a victory. The Galaxy have gone 7-0-1 in their last eight at home, where they have the best record in MLS at 12-1-3.

"Nothing changes for us but we do understand it’s starting to get at a vital stage of the season where we can’t afford any mistakes or any performances where we don’t show up," star midfielder Steven Gerrard said.

The Galaxy’s hopes to win the Supporters’ Shield ended when FC Dallas clinched the West’s top seed Saturday. They now want to lift a second straight MLS Cup and fourth in five years.

"It’s about six points at the moment, that’s our main focus," Gerrard said. "And then we believe that not many teams will want to play us over two legs in the playoffs, because we will be good."

Portland (13-11-8) is one of three teams tied for the West’s final two playoff spots with 47 points, joining San Jose and Seattle. The Timbers and Sounders have two games left and the Earthquakes have one.

That means a draw is a good enough result for Portland, which is 0-5-2 at Los Angeles.

"We need a point at least against LA to continue to control our fate," manager Caleb Porter said.

These teams played to a 2-2 draw in Portland on March 15. Los Angeles cruised to a 5-0 home rout June 24 behind a goal and two assists by Robbie Keane in a contest in which Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell was sent off in the 78th minute.

Performances like that are why Porter called the Galaxy the league’s best team.

"When they get 11 guys clicking and performing and have that well-oiled machine rolling, they are pretty much unstoppable," Porter said. "That’s why I think they are the best team in the league when that happens. We’re hoping that it’s a game where that doesn’t happen. Maybe we get lucky."

The Timbers will be without two injured players in defender Jack Jewsbury (foot) and midfielder Will Johnson (leg). Defender Alvas Powell is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

Portland has captured consecutive road games after winning 1-0 at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. Los Angeles will enjoy more rest since it hasn’t played since a 1-1 draw at Seattle on Oct. 4.

Keane has scored in two straight games. He’s tied for third in the league with 17 goals, matching New York City’s David Villa and Orlando City’s Cyle Larin.