Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Galaxy will attempt to maintain their sublime form on Sunday when they head to Providence Park to face the Portland Timbers.
On the back of their fifth MLS Cup triumph, the Galaxy carried their strong form into their first contest of 2015, controlling play against the Chicago Fire at the StubHub Center and netting two second-half goals in a 2-0 victory.
Jose Villarreal provided the opening goal, a just reward for a player who has been an unsung hero for the Galaxy in recent memory.
"He is a player with a lot of talent," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. "Maybe his best position would be as a second forward. Perhaps where Robbie Keane plays, but he's not going to get on the field because of that.
"We have a lot of forwards, and we asked him to make this transition to midfield, and it's a bit challenging, but he has worked real hard to get fit. I thought he showed that, and he did in his last couple of preseason games. So we're pretty excited about his development."
Robbie Keane doubled the advantage for the home side, adding to his impressive MLS resume as he aims to reclaim his MLS MVP award from last season.
Portland, meanwhile, was held scoreless in its opening match of the season as the club played to a 0-0 home draw with Real Salt Lake.
"You want three points, you're never going to be happy at home if you don't get three points, but ultimately I thought our performance was very, very good on both sides of the ball," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. "Sometimes you just don't find a goal, and sometimes it's because the other team just has a really good goalkeeper that makes a couple plays that you don't know how he made."
It was a result that provided the Timbers with continuity from last season; the team has not conceded a goal in MLS play in 394 minutes.
A big contributor for the clean sheet was Nat Borchers, who arrived at Portland via a trade during the offseason. The former Salt Lake stalwart has formed a nice partnership with Liam Ridgewell, evidenced by an impressive preseason spell and a shutout to open the campaign.
"Coming off the back end of last year, we just got back to basics and just had really quality defending more from the front and being really organized as a team," Ridgewell said. "We've definitely worked a lot on it since I've come in and obviously added Nat as well. We've just tried to work on it day in and day out in training and just tried to keep really solid."
Porter echoed Ridgewell's sentiments, highlighting Portland's solid organization against RSL.
"I thought we looked extremely organized," Porter said. "Our team defending was tremendous, so I'm real pleased with that. We're going to draw a lot of points and find a way to win games if we do that."