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Galaxy looking for more goals

The Galaxy has scored only seven goals in seven games, and only three of the goals have come from the team's seven forwards. The Galaxy hosts the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.

April 24, 2011|Grahame L. Jones | On Soccer

In its eighth Major League Soccer game of 2010, the Galaxy banged four goals past the Seattle Sounders in a 4-0 rout that left the team with a 7-0-1 record and 15 goals scored, almost two per game.

In its eighth MLS game of 2011, on Saturday night against the Portland Timbers in Carson, the same sort of output was not expected from the Galaxy.

That's because goals have been more difficult to come by this year. One-fifth of the way into the season, the Galaxy is 3-1-3 but has scored only seven goals in seven games.

Only three of those goals have come courtesy of the team's seven forwards.

Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett and Mike Magee have each found the back of the net only once. Landon Donovan, who returned Saturday after missing three games with a strained right knee, and Bryan Jordan have not scored. Adam Cristman, who is injured, and Jack McBean have not yet played a single minute.

Add in the new players in midfield and the cause of the goal shortage is clear.

"We have a lot of new players in the attack . . . so it takes a little bit of time," Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. "The lack of playing time they've had together doesn't make them yet a cohesive group on the field."

Portland Coach John Spencer, meanwhile, does not appear to have that problem.

The expansion Timbers came into Saturday's match after scoring seven goals in their previous two games, a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire and a 3-2 win over FC Dallas.

Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza and Costa Rican defender Rodney Wallace each scored twice in those games. Striker Kenny Cooper and midfielder Jack Jewsbury also had two goals apiece coming into Saturday's match.

Spencer has drummed it into his players not to "feel scared of playing games on the road" and to keep playing the same way.

The former Scottish international who won back-to-back MLS titles as assistant coach of the Houston Dynamo, said the Timbers did not intend to sit back and allow the Galaxy to dictate the game.

"Our mentality is that we're going to go to [Carson] and try to win the game," he said in an interview on the Timbers' website. "We're not going to go there and flood the midfield. We're not going to go there and be scared to attack, because we've got nothing to be scared of."

"You've got to have that confidence and drive in yourself that wherever we play it doesn't matter, home or away, big crowd, small crowd, we've got people who will support us and we need to be super-confident.

"We're in good form right now and we need to go and show that form" against the Galaxy.

So Arena knew that even as an expansion team, the Timbers presented a threat Saturday night.

"They've played very well at home," he said. "Their forwards have been dangerous. They're a good, solid team. Obviously, Cooper's going to be a handful out of set pieces and crosses. That's one thing that you certainly see out of that team."

But Arena was more interested in Portland's suspect defense, expecting that Donovan and David Beckham, who returned Saturday from suspension, might be able to take advantage of the Timbers' back line.

"They have a young 'keeper and some inexperienced guys in the back," Arena said. "They've given up some goals, yet they've still managed to win games.

"We need to attack them with some quality play and, if we can, we're going to create some chances."

Beckham said he had been impressed by the Timbers.

"They're new to this league but they've done well to win their last couple of games," he said. "We're ready for them. We're at home. We need to make this stadium hard to come to and our team hard to beat."

To do that requires scoring with a bit more frequency, and that was what the Galaxy had planned on Saturday.

Of course, Portland had the same idea in mind.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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