Los Angeles FC-Timbers Preview
Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese thinks his team are rediscovering themselves as they prepare to host Los Angeles FC.
The Timbers are fifth in the Western Conference, a point ahead of their next opponents, after being held to a 2-2 draw by Colorado Rapids last time out.
That result ended a three-match winning streak and, with fellow playoff rivals visiting next, Savarese has been pleased with his team's upturn in form.
"We felt we went a little bit away from who we are and we needed to make sure that each player understood back again their role," Savarese said.
"In those conversations and the work on the field, we built up again who we are.
"It starts first with the morale, with the environment, as you said, and believing that we had to bounce back from the game against Seattle, which still was always inside us. That became a motivation for us to make sure that we were better."
The visitors have also bounced back from an eight-game winless streak and currently occupy seventh in the Western Conference as they look for a fourth consecutive win.
However, Los Angeles have struggled on the road, though they did end a four-game losing run in such fixtures with a 2-1 defeat of Austin FC.
And head coach Bob Bradley was satisfied with that outing, a performance which can be built upon in their next fixture.
"The mentality of the team in a game where its tight and hard, Austin is a team playing for everything, full of energy and our group handled that really well," Bradley said.
"We have been a good team but this year we have good days and made chances but been punished with mistakes. You cannot make excuses, those just don't fly.
"We see the picture of how we play and feel good about that, now we're continuing to develop a strong mentality so even on a day when our football isn't at its best we still find ways to win."
Portland Timbers - Felipe Mora
Felipe Mora, who netted a late winner against Los Angeles in July, scored his MLS-leading sixth headed goal this season and he leads club charts as well, with 10 goals in the campaign - five more than second-place Jeremy Ebobisse.
Los Angeles FC - Cristian Arango
Cristian Arango has come to the fore in the absence of Carlos Vela, scoring five goals in his last four games as he leads the Los Angeles line.
●The Timbers defeated LAFC, 2-1, in the first meeting between the sides this season, on July 21, ending a seven-match winless run for Portland against LAFC (D4 L3). The Timbers have had only one longer winless run against an opponent in its MLS history, going 10 in a row without beating Real Salt Lake from October 2011 to April 2014.
●Sebastian Blanco's 91st minute equalizer against Colorado on Wednesday was the third time the Timbers have earned points in stoppage time this season after Jeremy Ebobisse's 91st minute equalizing goal against Houston in June and Felipe Mora's 93rd minute winner against LAFC in July.
●Los Angeles FC has followed up a club-record eight-match winless run (D3 L5) with a three-match winning streak, including a 2-1 win at Austin on Wednesday. The win was LAFC's fourth away win since the start of last season (D2 L14, including playoffs), with two of them coming in Austin and the other two at Salt Lake.
●Felipe Mora scored his MLS-leading sixth headed goal this season in Portland's draw against Colorado on Wednesday. Including MLS is Back, The Timbers have scored a league-best 24 headed goals since the start of last season, six more than any other team in that time.
●Danny Musovski scored an 81st minute winner against Austin FC on Wednesday. Five of Musovski's seven career MLS goals have been scored in the 80th minute or later, with four of them coming as a substitute.
Updated September 18, 2021