LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney is worried a long lay-off may have impacted his side’s rhythm ahead of a home MLS clash with Portland Timbers.
The Galaxy have not played for almost three weeks due to the international break, beating Austin FC 4-1 in their last encounter to move into fifth in the Western Conference.
That means the first challenge for Vanney on Saturday will be making sure his players are back on the same wavelength and fit to compete.
“Some guys physically are in different places,” Vanney said.
“Some guys had long flights, some guys have been in here and have had tough sessions, so the first thing is getting everybody back on the same page and ready to go.
“Whether that’s physical, mental, tactical and all those different things.”
Javier Hernandez, meanwhile, hopes his side can pick up where they left off.
“We hope we can take back that momentum that we left with,” he added.
“We hope to get three more points like the performance like we did before the break. We’re excited.”
The Timbers have lost their last three games and are four points off the playoffs in the West, but coach Giovanni Savarese believes the break will have helped.
“The first thing is the understanding that the first part of the season was difficult, and that we should have done better, regardless (of) whatever the reasons,” he said.
“There’s the recognition from our part that (we) should have been better.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
LA Galaxy – Dejan Joveljic
Dejan Joveljic made history as he became the first MLS substitute to record four goal involvements off the bench. He will hope to start against the Timbers.
Portland Timbers – Santiago Moreno
Santiago Moreno picked up his second MLS assist of the season against Inter Miami, joining four other Portland players on that tally.
KEY OPTA FACTS
·The Galaxy have won their last three matches against Portland, LA’s second three-match winning streak against Portland in MLS play, also doing so in the 2012 season. The Galaxy are the only team with multiple three-match winning streaks against the Timbers in regular season play.
·It’s been an up and down season once again for the Galaxy, with seven wins and five defeats in their first 14 games (D2). This is the sixth straight season the Galaxy have had at least five losses after 14 games after doing so twice in the previous eight seasons (2009-16).
·The Timbers are off to the worst start in the club’s MLS history with just 15 points through 15 games, as only the Fire (2) have won fewer times than Portland (3). This is also the first time since 2017 that Portland has had a stretch of 15 games with only three wins.
·Dejan Joveljic became the first player in MLS history to contribute to four goals as a substitute in the Galaxy’s 4-1 win over Austin on May 29 (2 goals, 2 assists). All four goal contributions came in the final 30 minutes of the match.
·Red cards have been a problem for the Timbers this season, as their four reds are tied for most in MLS. All four of those have been shown to fullbacks, including two to Josecarlos Van Rankin, the only player to be sent off multiple times this MLS season.