The Portland Timbers (4-3-2, 14 points) are looking to keep their pitch-perfect home record humming Saturday afternoon when they host expansion Los Angeles FC (6-2-2, 20 points), who have had a remarkable first season in MLS and are currently in second place in the Western Conference.
After a brutal start to the season — 0-3-2 in five straight road contest to open 2018 — Portland has thrived at home with a 3-0-0 record. The team sandwiched those wins around a road victory in San Jose two weeks ago, putting the Timbers on a four-match winning streak.
Key injuries to defender Liam Ridgewell and midfielder David Guzman no doubt contributed to the rough start, but since Ridgewell’s return to the lineup three games ago, the Timbers have not conceded a goal. Guzman was declared fit to return last week, but he was held out by coach Giovanni Savarese. He could be back with an improved midfield against LAFC.
Los Angeles comes to town with an impressive four road victories so far this season, going 4-2-0 away from home, and is coming off a four-match homestand that produced two wins and two draws.
Forward Carlos Vela has been the main offensive engine for LAFC, with six goals and five assists on the season, and he’s getting plenty of support from the dynamic play of forward Diego Rossi (four goals, six assists).
LAFC’s offensive mettle will be tested by a Timbers side that has become extremely stingy and gets a tremendous boost from a raucous home crowd at Providence Park. “Their team is not only Vela,” Savarese said this week. “We have to recognize that.”
The Timbers, who are being paced by Sebastian Blanco’s five goals on the season, will take the pitch without defender Roy Miller (left Achilles), forward Jeremy Ebobisse (right thigh) and goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh (right thigh). Defender Vytas Andriuskevicius is listed as questionable with a right thigh injury.
LAFC are still without goalkeeper Luis Lopez (stress fracture in his right leg), and forward Marco Urena is out after facial surgery earlier this month.
—Field Level Media