Everywhere Zlatan goes, theatrics follow. In the first ever ‘El Trafico,’ or LA Derby against Los Angles Football Club (LAFC), the LA Galaxy found themselves down by one goal in the 77th minute. Enter Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Six minutes and change later, the game was level thanks to a 40-yard strike from Zlatan. Fast forward to one minute into stoppage time. The ball was crossed into the box, and who else but Zlatan rose up for a header, and put it into the back of the net to secure a 4-3 come-from-behind victory for the Galaxy. These two goals of absolute brilliance from one of the most clinical goal scorers for over a decade, have brought limitless possibilities to the LA Galaxy.
Zlatan has won 13 league championships across four different leagues in his professional career. The guy is an unquestioned winner. He has scored 321 goals in a 19-year club career, highlighted by his 2008-09 season with Inter Milan in which he was the top scorer in the league, as well as his 156 goals in 180 appearances for Paris-Saint Germain (PSG). With PSG, he was the top scorer in the league three consecutive years, and left as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Further, he is Sweden’s all-time goal scorer, and was voted the country’s footballer of the year 10 years in a row. He scores goals and wins championships. That is what Zlatan does. Plus he can do this.
Class of MLS
Major League Soccer was previously viewed as a retirement league for top-flight players in Europe. David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Steven Gerrard are the biggest names that decided to”retire” by playing in the United States. David Villa has been an outlier as he has continually delivers for New York City FC (NYCFC), and was named the league MVP in 2016. There has been a wave of young, talented South American designated players that have come to the MLS in recent years. However, none of them possess the class and aforementioned goal-scoring record that Zlatan does.
Transforms the Galaxy
Pre-Zlatan, the Galaxy were a team with no identity and a multitude of defensive issues. Those defensive issues reared their head again on Saturday as LAFC jumped out to commanding 3-0 lead. Moving forward, having the best player on the field can mitigate defensive issues. How many years in a row have pundits been talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense? Yet with LeBron James, the best player on the court every night, the Cavs continue to go to the NBA Finals year after year. Although they are different sports, with a commanding attack, the pressure on the defense will be minimized. This alone puts the Galaxy in the upper-echelon of the league.
For all the glitz, glamor, and high-powered attack of LAFC, the game and quite possibly soccer supremacy in Los Angeles came down to one man. Zlatan. He could still be leading an attacking line at a top-flight club in Europe. He could score a couple of goals at this summer’s World Cup for Sweden. Instead, he has decided to come to America, and barring injury, dominate. If you need more proof, click and see what he has done against more formidable opponents.
Photo Credit: Matthew Ashton | AMA/Getty Images