Major League Soccer

Galaxy-Timbers Preview

Greg Vanney insists LA Galaxy can continue improving as they look to build on a fast start to the campaign when they travel to Portland Timbers.

The Galaxy have won four of their opening five games, most recently overcoming Austin FC 2-0 last weekend to move up to second in the overall standings.

It is a far cry from last season when picking up two points over the same period and Vanney, who replaced Guillermo Barros Schelotto in January, sees no reason why his men cannot sustain their form.

"For us, it's about being able to continue building on what we're trying to do and who we're trying to be," he said. "We want to continue to work on ourselves defensively, become more difficult to play against, more difficult for teams to get into our half.

"I think this season is about getting better and ultimately you want to keep taking points along the way, but especially for a new coach and new players we just want to keep making improvements along the way.

"So we're going to go to Portland with the objective to try to play our way, aware of the things they do well, try to take those away and keep taking steps forward and keep acquiring as many points as we can through the process."

The Timbers returned to winning ways with a 2-0 success at San Jose Earthquakes last time out, ending a three-game losing streak that also saw them eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League by Club America.

Head coach Giovanni Savarese is proud of the way his Portland side turned the tide by overcoming the Quakes, leaving them ninth in the Western Conference and looking up the standings.

"You don't win games like that without the team being united and working for each other," he said. "The group has a good mentality and will give everything to get a good result during difficult moments.

"It shows we have a lot of character, so credit to the players. I'm proud of them. Now we have to carry on working hard, freshen up and get guys back from injuries."

Portland Timbers - Eryk Williamson

Yimmi Chara and Marvin Loria were on target in the morale-boosting win over the Quakes, both of those goals being set up by Williamson. Not only does Williamson help break up opposition attacks, he can also pick a pass and that was reflected in what was a superb individual showing last time out.

LA Galaxy - Sebastian Lletget

Javier Hernandez maintained his impressive form by netting for the seventh time this season in the win against Austin, a game in which Lletget also got off the mark for the campaign. Only one team in MLS - Seattle Sounders with 13 - has scored more goals than the Galaxy's 10 so far this campaign. If others such as Lletget can continue chipping in then there is no reason why Vanney's men cannot sustain their form.

- Portland has won four of the last five meetings between the sides (L1), including the last two. Portland had won only six of its first 21 MLS matches against the Galaxy (D6 L9).

- The Timbers has failed to score just three times since the start of last season, including the playoffs. That is tied for fewest in MLS in that time.

- Last season, the Galaxy's two points through five matches was the club's worst in the post-shootout era (since 2000). Their 12 points through five matches this season is bettered only by their start in 2010 (13 points) in that time frame.

- Marvin Loria's goal against San Jose on Saturday was Portland's first headed goal of the 2021 season. They led MLS with 13 headed goals in 2020, four more than any other team.

- Javier Hernandez is the fourth player in MLS history to score at least seven goals through his team's first five matches of a season and the third Galaxy player to do so.

Updated May 21, 2021

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