Timbers MatchDay: vs. Galaxy

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter



L.A. Galaxy at Timbers

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field.

TV/radio: NBC (Ch. 8/708) / AM 750.

Tickets:www.portlandtimbers.com; 503-553-5555. A sellout is expected.

Where they stand: Portland has 11 wins, 13 ties and five losses (46 points), and is third in the West, one point ahead of Los Angeles (13-6-10, 45 points). Real Salt Lake (51 points from 31 games) leads the West, Seattle (50 points from 28 games) is second. The top five teams make the playoffs. Portland and L.A. will both have four games left in the regular season after today.

Head to head: Portland has a win and a tie this season against Los Angeles. The teams played to a scoreless draw in June at Carson, Calif., and the Timbers won 2-1 in July in Portland on Andrew Jean-Baptiste's stoppage-time goal. All time in MLS, the Galaxy lead the series 4-2-1.

Timbers story: Portland is coming off an important 1-0 home win over Colorado on Sept. 20. The eight days off gave the Timbers time to heal some injuries and rest for the five-game home stretch that begins with this match. Diego Valeri, who leads MLS with 12 assists and is one of three Timbers (along with Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe) with a team-best eight goals, is as healthy as he's been since straining an adductor muscle four games ago. Despite that injury, Valeri has scored the last three Portland goals, including his chip against Colorado that won the MLS goal of the week fan vote. L.A.'s Landon Donovan this week called Valeri the second most valuable player in MLS this season -- behind the Galaxy's Robbie Keane. Timbers coach Caleb Porter has almost a full roster available. His most interesting decision will be at forward (Maximiliano Urruti, Ryan Johnson, Jose Valencia). In the back, Andrew Jean-Baptiste played a central role in each of the first two matches against the Galaxy. But the second-year center back was replaced last week by veteran Mamadou "Futty" Danso alongside Pa Modou Kah. Portland is unbeaten in its last 12 home games (9 wins, 3 ties).

L.A. story: The road has not been a productive place so far this season for the team that won the last two MLS Cup titles. The Galaxy have four wins, eight losses and three ties as the visiting team. The Galaxy is winless in three September MLS matches, with a 1-0 loss to Colorado, a 2-2 draw with DC United, and a 1-1 draw with Seattle. Landon Donovan has not played since leaving the Sept. 14 match against D.C. United with an ankle injury. It is uncertain that coach Bruce Arena will start Donovan on the wet artificial turf at Jeld-Wen Field -- though the Timbers expect Donovan to play. Donovan and Robbie Keane both played in the scoreless draw between the clubs in L.A. Donovan was with the U.S. national team when the teams met in Portland in July. If Donovan does not start, look for 20-year-old Jose Villarreal (3 goals, 2 assists in 29 career games) to start alongside Keane. The most significant change for the Galaxy since their last visit to Portland is the addition of Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. L.A. has three wins and two draws in the matches Penedo has played.

Landon Donovan on playing in Portland: "Outside of our (home) field, I think it's the hardest place to go play. I think over the years, teams wound say they don't want to come to L.A., and now they say they don't want to go to Portland or Seattle."