Zlatan Ibrahimovic went 90 minutes and scored 2 penalties as the the LA Galaxy defeated the Portland Timbers 2-1 to cap off Week 5 of MLS on Sunday night.
It wasn’t always the pretty, but the Galaxy managed to hold out for a 2-1 win against a Portland side that was determined to disrupt the flow of play through most of the game. Diego Chara was active, constantly being a nuisance and somehow was not booked for persistent infringement. Referee Ted Unkel issued yellow cards to the Timber’s Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco and the the Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget, Jonathan dos Santos and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Galaxy home crowd grew frustrated with Unkle’s calls as they felt very inconsistent. The yellow cards that were issued for unsporting behavior to Blanco, Lletget and Ibrahimovic varied in severity while fouls committed by other players, Chara in particular, looked like fouls that should have warranted yellow cards, yet, they were only given warnings.
The biggest challenge the team had to overcome on the night was Portland’s Defensive set up. Giovani Savarese’s game plan was clearly to disrupt and destroy any build up the Galaxy attempted and to make life very difficult for the big man up top, Zlatan was fouled hard and often. The result of that however ended in two penalties being called in favor of the home side. Ibrahimovic converted both penalties, Zlatan, always a crowd pleaser, converted the 2nd spot kick with a Panenka which sent Galaxy fans into wild celebration.
Portland did manage to catch the Galaxy’s defense off guard in the 44th min with a quick combination play. A wide open Diego Chara received a ball with acres of space in front of him, he played Guzman though, Guzman played a quick 1-2 pass with Valeri and Ebobisse was on the back post for an easy finish. The Galaxy defense left to ponder what just hit them just before halftime.
The Galaxy looked in control of the 2nd half, creating many chances to go ahead until Zlatan weaved his way between 3 defenders and in on goal in the 65th minute. Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella took down Ibrahimovic as he drew the 2nd penalty for the Galaxy. Zlatan wasn’t done yet, he revealed after the match that he had promised his son 3 goals in his return from injury, the 1 year Anniversary of his unforgettable March 31st debut with the club. He nearly had it in the 71st minute, but he redirected a cross from Joe Corona straight to the Portland keeper. In the 89th min, the table was set perfectly for Zlatan but Jorgen Skjelvik’s waist high cross made it difficult for the Swede to get a foot on. Had the ball been on the ground, it would have been an easy tap in. Zlatan joked in the post-game interview that Jurgen needed to pay his son for the poor pass.
Overall, Galaxy fans have to be happy with the team’s home record, a perfect 3-0. They now head to Vancouver for a Friday night fixture. Zlatan has said that he is cleared to play on turf, we will see if the coaching staff feels the same way.