Timbers-Los Angeles FC Preview (Jul 13, 2018)

Goalkeepers for Los Angeles FC and the Portland Timbers should expect quite a workout this week.

Two streaking teams with plenty of offensive stars meet Sunday when LAFC takes on the Timbers at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.

LAFC (10-4-4) is undefeated in five straight MLS games and is 5-0-3 at home in its inaugural season. Coach Bob Bradley’s club is in second place in the Western Conference, one point behind FC Dallas and one point in front of Sporting Kansas City.

Meanwhile, Portland (8-3-5) is unbeaten in 11 straight — 8-0-3 — after opening the campaign with a five-game winless streak. That surge has the Timbers tied with Real Salt Lake for fourth in the West at 29 points.

One reason for the LAFC’s success is Adama Diomande, who didn’t make his MLS debut until late May and quickly made up for lost time. With two goals in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Crew last Saturday, Diomande extended his points streak to six straight matches. He has nine goals this season, and LAFC is 4-1-1 with the Norwegian forward has a point.

“I’m just happy to get all the right movements in the right times where I’ve always been dangerous in front of the goal. It’s really been a pleasure to be a part of the team again and start helping them to achieve all the things were doing together,” Diomande told the league’s official website.

Bradley coached Diomande in Norway — and knew what he was getting.

“Now I see every game, he’s getting a little sharper, his touches, his movement, so I’m pleased,” the coach said.

Should he score a goal on Sunday, Diomande — the league’s player of the month for June — would be the first to notch 10 goals inside his first 10 MLS games.

LAFC is expected to have forward Carlos Vela (seven goals, five assists) in the lineup after competing for Mexico at the World Cup. Bradley should also have Ghanaian forward Latif Blessing (goals in three straight matches) to draw upon, and highly touted Portuguese midfielder Andre Horta could make his MLS debut.

“It’s exciting that now he’s available, but of course, like with everyone else, decisions have to fit in with what’s going on with the whole team and what goes on in training every day,” Bradley said.

However, Portland could be one of the few teams that can stack up against LAFC on offense with reigning MVP Diego Valeri and Samuel Armenteros.

Valeri scored 21 goals last season. While he has only six this year, the midfielder from Argentina is on a remarkable streak while on pace to set a career high for assists.

Valeri has assists on each of the Timbers’ last five goals, lifting the club to wins over the Seattle Sounders on June 30 and the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday. Valeri has eight assists and is on pace for 17.

Armenteros, a Swedish forward, has three goals in his last two games and six in his last seven. He noted how well he has clicked with Valeri.

“I’m happy we’ve gotten this chemistry to work off each other and hopefully we can keep this streak going,” Armenteros told the Oregonian.

Armenteros also figured in Portland’s 2-1 win over LAFC on May 19 at Providence Park. He registered the winning goal to help end LAFC’s six-game undefeated run.