The Timbers have left the friendliest confines in Major League Soccer behind for Hollywood (OK, technically it's Carson) and are hoping to steal some scenes tonight from the star-studded Galaxy (8 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel).
True to form, flashypants LA boasts a bevy of stars in its cast, most notably top-American-footballer Landon Donovan, the ever-iconoclastic David Beckham, the cooly-named Junihno and the always-dangerous Juan Pablo Angel.
Does Portland have what it takes to transition from supporting actor to leading man? Can they win without the full Timbers Army behind them? Will Becks' hair stay in place? More plot twists after the jump, including a rousing round of TYPECAST THAT TIMBER, more on the match and enough EXTRA TIME links to keep your publicist busy.
Attention Los Angeles-area casting directors: Looking for that new fresh face? Well, allow me.
- Jeremy Hall: Look at that smile—it's built to carry a buddy comedy. Maybe a road movie as a vehicle for potential heartthrob Chris Taylor? Maybe they lose a baby. Maybe they find themselves.
OK, so the Galaxy may have a bit more star-power on their roster, but the Timbers' ensemble cast has gotten its share of acclaim. But what about plot, you ask? Well, while the basic appeal of the Timbers jersey sharing the pitch with such luminaries is there for soccer fans and soccer moms alike, the real draw of this match is seeing how Portland stacks up against one of the league's perennial contenders.
The Timbers have shown the chops to win at this level, as they did twice in their big premiere at home last weekend. But without the beams of admiration from Timbers Army spurring them on, the team will have to lean on its recent success and learn from its slip-ups to come away with a result tonight.
Yes, LA will be at full strength, with Beckham returning from a yellow-card induced suspension and Donovan likely back from nagging knee issues. But Portland shouldn't let the flashbulbs blind them: The Galaxy's stout defense will be the Timbers' biggest obstacle, and it'll be interesting to see how effective the ever-jelling combination of Jorge Perlaza and Kenny Cooper are on the attack against the likes of Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant.
The strapping, 6-foot-3 Cooper established a clear physical tone early in both home games, something 6-5 Gonzalez will definitely try to nip in the bud. Look for LA to also try to keep tabs on Kalif Alhassan, who set up three of the Timbers' seven goals at home. The Timbers, meanwhile, must focus on maintaining aggression for 90 minutes and not allowing any extra drama to make its way into the scene by giving up early (or late) goals.
Should they do that, this could be a hit.
EXTRA TIME! Links to help you read well.
• Troy Perkins will start in goal tonight, according to The O's Geoffrey C. Arnold.
• Paul Danzer of The Columbian will be keeping an eye on the Timbers' demeanor under the bright lights of today's match.
• Geoff Gibson of Stumptown Footy's preview reminds us of the Galaxy's impressive stable of Designated Players and its talented backline.
• Timbers Insider Kelly McLain says Portland's "on a roll" but will need to show it can sustain its suddenly-stout offense on the road.
• With the game on Fox Soccer Channel, this rundown of viewing options by Rick Curwen at OregonLive is handy, as is Arnold's preview and insightful feature on Alhassan's "growing maturity."
• The Timbers' official site has Doug Binder's preview centering on "minimizing the mistakes", MLSSoccer's match-day preview and other notes from club voice John Strong, which include a Randy Newman mention.
• NathanHJ of the Offiside says tonight's match is "a tale of four teams."
• Goal.com's Zach Lee Rigg calls Portland and its Cascadia counterparts "genuine soccer hotbeds."