LA Galaxy – 1 (own-goal, Nat Borchers – 84′)
Portland Timbers – 1 (Fanendo Adi, assist to Valeri – 52′)
Yellow cards – Nat Borchers (17′), Nigel de Jong (73′), Ned Grabavoy (88′), Diego Chara (90′ + 2′)
As Nagbe was wheeled off the pitch at the close of the final game of MLS’ week six the melancholy reverberated across the stadium. This was no small battle that had occurred. Implications will be felt by referees, MLS’ disciplinary committee, fans, players and the USMNT. The match between two MLS champions brought out a lot of rivalry on the pitch and in the stands, and while it began with some intense but balanced physical plays, it devolved into a showdown of challenges that culminated with Darlington Nagbe being stretchered off the pitch after a Nigel de Jong challenge followed by an own-goal from Borchers to level the scoreline at 1-1, and a devolving sense of desperation for a winning goal towards the end. LA Galaxy, played as expected — strong throughout the midfield and back line minus an unexpected injury of Robbie Rogers, who was replaced in the early minutes by Rafael Garcia, and a less-than-stellar performance up in the front attacking third, where Gyasi Zardes only managed to eek out two efforts on goal. DP Giovani dos Santos returned to LA’s lineup in his first starting appearance since their opening game against DC United.
The first half was dominated by mostly timid LA Galaxy goal efforts but the Timbers back line cemented itself slowly as the minutes went by and Adam Kwarasey was able to shake LA’s offense with relative ease. While the Galaxy had the majority of the possession in the first half and numerous attempts at a goal, only 3 out of 7 were on target and those three were softly hit directly to Adam Kwarasey. The Timbers still had difficulty breaking down LA’s defense, in spite of a 7th minute substitution of Robbie Rogers. Brian Rowe had an easy first half.
No one predicted how quickly the tables would turn in the second half. Portland’s deft passing throughout the midfield in the 52nd minute, led to a sequence between Nagbe, Valeri and Adi who didn’t feel threatened by Rafael Garcia’s inability to close him down. Adi hit a beautiful curled ball past Rowe into the back of the net for the game’s first goal. What followed next was a series of back and forth between the two teams, with again all LA’s efforts shut down or off target. The finishing was simply not there for the hosts. But it didn’t end up mattering much, after the controversial yellow card on Nigel de Jong for a studs up tackle debilitating Nagbe in the 73rd minute which he immediately apologized for, the match took a turn for the worse. A minute later, Nat Borchers dove to head a ball away from goal to watch it go around Kwarasey to bring the Galaxy level. Each team takes a point but no one was the winner tonight. They both face Texas titans next.
LA Galaxy heads to Houston for a match Friday at BBVA Compass.
The Timbers play on Wednesday, hosting FC Dallas at Providence Park.
How They Lined Up:
Portland played a defensively strong match in response to their earlier defeats this season and the tactic worked. “At the end of the year, we were playing 4-3-3 and to make a 4-3-3 work, you have to have every piece working together and the pattern in the last three game prior to this game was that it just wasn’t working. We were giving up too many goals. It’s the old insanity, right? You can keep doing the same thing and expect a different result or you can evaluate your system. With [Liam] Ridgewell out and Jorge not in – even Rodney, who is a guy that brings defending and fighting power – those are three pieces. So you can say it’s only three and we return the majority of the group, but those are three pieces, three pieces that bring a lot of defending.” – Coach Caleb Porter.
LA Galaxy’s starting lineup is all about continuing to cope with injuries now. This is the time to test the depth of their bench and the youngsters of Los Dos. It’s fairly likely de Jong will receive a retroactive red card and fair to say that Robbie Rogers’ injury takes him out for the coming week(s). “It’s all part of the game. It happens every year. Sometimes they come quickly, sometimes they’re spread out,” Bruce Arena reflects. “It’s all part of it; you’re never going to go without injuries. It’s all part of the game unfortunately. It’s a part of the game we don’t like, but it’s a part of the game.”
The thought was that perhaps returning Giovani dos Santos would be a true number 10 in this match, but the reality was different. LA will need him to step up to cover as much playing ground as Zardes if he’s truly more comfortable in a forward role until Robbie Keane’s return.
no surprise here…everything changed in an instant.
Nigel De Jong severely injured someone with a dirty tackle? Weird. https://t.co/KIsDeuohdt
— Ben Swain (@TheBenSwain) April 11, 2016
but it was also this…
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 11, 2016
Tweet of the Match
Good on Mike Magee, saying on the post-game show: "I'd love to defend him [De Jong] but the game could do without those kinds of tackles."
— Seth Vertelney (@svertelney) April 11, 2016
Photo of the Match:
— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_FOX) April 11, 2016
Quote of the Match:
— Women United FC (@wunitedfc) April 11, 2016
Man of the Moment:
Magic Mike Magee has to do a bit of PR to Rescue his Team from being Shredded by the Court of Media and Public Opinion.