July 14, 2018 / 6:56 PM / in 3 months

Portland, LAFC prepare for back-to-back key matches

It’s not the playoffs, but the atmosphere the next two matches for Los Angeles FC and the Portland Timbers might feel like it.

That’s because the Western Conference rivals will play each other twice in a four-day span at Banc of California Stadium. The match Sunday is in MLS play; the one Wednesday is in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.

“It’s a coincidence we have to play the same team in the same place a few days apart,” Portland coach Giovanni Saverese said. “The guys are ready mentally to perform for those two matches.”

Portland (8-3-5, 29 points) is tied for fourth in the conference and on an 8-0-3 run (10-0-3 including U.S. Open Cup play). The expansion LAFC (10-4-4, 34) are second and have four wins and a tie in the past five games. They’ve scored four goals three times during the unbeaten run.

Los Angeles is also undefeated at home (5-0-3) and about to get better.

Portuguese midfielder Andre Horta, 21, was signed as a designated player in March but only recently joined LAFC after completing his European season with Braga and then taking a break.

Horta will be available for Sunday’s match, and if he doesn’t play, he almost certainly will in the rematch on Wednesday.

“He arrives where he has had some time off,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said on Thursday. “He’s in preseason mode while everybody else is in midseason mode.

“It’s exciting that now he’s available, but of course, like with everyone else, decisions have to fit in with what’s going on with the whole team and what goes on in training every day.”

Horta will join a roster that includes Adama Diomande, who has nine goals in seven career MLS appearances.

In their first meeting with LAFC on May 19, the Timbers won 2-1 at home, but that was a week before Diomande debuted.

—Field Level Media

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