The Swedish sensation just finished a regular season in which he scored a franchise-record 30 goals and helped lead the club to its first MLS Cup playoff berth since 2016. But his otherwise memorable year ended on a disappointing note with Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Los Angeles FC in the Western Conference semifinals in front of a crowd of 22,902 at Banc of California Stadium.
Second-half substitute Adama Diomande scored a pair of second-half goals to lead LAFC into Tuesday’s conference final against Seattle. The Galaxy, meanwhile, will head back to Carson with plenty of unanswered questions, starting with the biggest one concerning the status of Ibrahimovic.
The 38-year-old’s contract runs out at the end of December, and he has refrained from revealing his future plans for months. His modus operandi was no different after Sunday’s game, when reporters peppered him with questions about his future.
“Imagine if I don’t play in MLS,” he said. “Who will you talk about then? I have another two months, and we see what happens.”
Ibrahimovic was asked if not winning an MLS Cup could spur him to come back for his third season with the Galaxy.
“Let’s see what happens,” he responded. “Too early to think.”
He recently had been non-committal when asked if Sunday could be his last game in a Galaxy uniform had the five-time MLS Cup champions lost to their crosstown rivals in a series in which they have held the upper hand (2-1-3).
Again he wouldn’t bite in answering.
“Could be, could be,” he said. “Let’s see what happens. I did my best, I think everybody did their best. And what happens next year … if I stay or not, I think for MLS it’s good because the whole world will watch us.
“If I don’t stay, nobody will remember what MLS is.”
Ibrahimovic did acknowledge Sunday’s clash was an exciting one, albeit the end result was a microcosm of a season marked by maddening inconsistency.
“When there’s a lot of goals, it’s always exciting for the fans,” he said. “But obviously for the team, nobody wants to concede a lot of goals. And today, we concede five goals, but at the same time, we score three goals.
“The whole season has been like this. We score a couple of goals, but we concede much more than we are scoring. I think we should be sad and disappointed, sad because we are not through (in the playoffs), disappointed because I think we let them punish us in a way we have to come back from it.
“It’s not easy to play like that,” he went on. “It’s not the way you win. It’s not the way you become champion.”