One game down, three points and on to the next one. Los Angeles Football Club host Portland Timbers on Sunday at Banc of California Stadium, a game that seems to be one circled on the schedule from an LAFC perspective. To get a sense of the Timbers perspective, we bring in our friend Zach Kay, who runs SB Nation’s Timbers and Thorns blog Stumptown Footy to answer a few questions. Many thanks to Zach for taking the time to answer my question!
Angels on Parade asks Stumptown Footy:
1. Last season, the Timbers reached the MLS Cup final, but fell just short of their title quest. What has changed for the 2019 season?
On the surface level, it’s easy to look at the 2019 Timbers and not think that much has changed, and in a way, you’d be right with that assessment. The roster is largely the same, and while Jorge Moreira looks like he will probably end up winning the starting right back spot, it could still be a few weeks before that happens as he arrived very late in the preseason. The biggest difference for the Timbers this year is simply that they are no longer a team with a first-year coach. In 2018, Giovanni Savarese was never really able to implement his desired system and spent a large chunk of the season playing an ultra-pragmatic 4-3-2-1 bunker-and-counter kind of style. Now, we’re seeing the Timbers play a more exciting, front-foot style featuring a higher line of confrontation.
2. Portland had a wild season opener, playing in a blizzard in Colorado and managing a point. Can you get much out of a game like that, or is the game against LAFC like a second chance at a season opener?
I wrote a little about this here, but overall I think the general consensus is that this weekend against LAFC is going to be the first actual soccer match the Timbers have played this year. The match in Colorado was fun to watch, kind of, but it definitely didn’t really provide any takes that have real significance beyond the absurd nature of the whole affair.
3. From the LAFC side, it feels like the Timbers are genuine rivals after 2018. Is the feeling mutual from the Portland side of things?
In Portland, there’s sort of this trope that everyone wants to be the Timbers’ rivals, but Timbers fans really only care about Seattle and sometimes Vancouver. That said, there was definitely some controversy between these two teams and fan-bases last year, so just to double check, I created a quick twitter poll before answering this. As it turns out, the feeling is decidedly not mutual from the fans, and I certainly haven’t heard anything about a feeling of rivalry with LAFC from within the club.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for this match?
LAFC 3 - Timbers 2
What do you think? Leave a comment below!