LAFC at Portland Timbers: How to watch; what to watch for
HOW TO WATCH
When: 12 noon, Sunday, Oct. 2
Where: Providence Park
TV: ABC (KATU 2)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The final regular-season home match does not lack for drama, as it features the teams that since June 1 have the two best records in the Western Conference (Portland 31 points from 17 games, LAFC 33 points from 18 games). If things fall right, Portland (11-8-13, 46 points) could clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs. LAFC (20-8-4, 64 points), meanwhile, is battling to finish as the top team in all of Major League Soccer.
First, playoff scenarios: If Portland beats LAFC and Real Salt Lake loses or draws on Saturday against the LA Galaxy, the Timbers clinch a playoff spot. If Portland and LAFC draw, the Timbers can clinch if RSL loses to the Galaxy and Seattle draws or loses on Sunday at Sporting Kansas City.
With the match taking place at noon on a warm day on artificial turf, it'll be interesting to see if Welsh forward Gareth Bale gets a run for LAFC. Ditto for Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. Of course, LAFC is loaded with talent no matter who first-year coach Steve Cherundolo calls upon. Cristian Arango has 16 goals and five assists and Carlos Vela 11 and 11 to lead LAFC, which has scored 64 goals through 32 games.
It will be interesting, too, to see how Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese sets up his side. Portland has primarily gone with three centerbacks during the five-match unbeaten run (4-0-1) that has lifted the Timbers above the playoff line with two matches left in the season. Part of that discussion might involve what role the newest Timber, right side defender Juan David Mosquera, could play. Mosquera came on late in Portland's last match and was involved in the buildup to Santiago Moreno's dramatic tying goal at Columbus.
No matter the formation, Portland has been better after halftime in many of its matches this season and scored 37 of its 51 goals in the second half.
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