Steve Carrillo

UPDATE: Verdict is in, and Ibrahimovic is finally cleared to play by MLS

UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been given the green light to play by MLS. After a review process that took nine days, and had preemptive appeals launched by the LA Galaxy, the Swedish striker will be able to play on Wednesday night against FC Dallas at StubHub Center.

Original Story; 5.28.18

It seems a simple task for Major League Soccer. All they need to do is notify the LA Galaxy about whether or not Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be eligible to play against FC Dallas on Wednesday night (7:30 PM; SpectrumSN, Spectrum Deportes).

So far, at least, MLS hasn’t been able to do that.

“We haven’t heard a decision yet as of right now,” Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid told CoG at training on Monday. “Maybe a decision came while I was out here on the training field.”

But when CoG checked in with the organization on Monday afternoon, a decision had still yet to be passed down to the club. And that’s with the Galaxy’s next game a little more than 48 hours away.

Ibrahimovic was shown a straight red card in the Galaxy’s 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact after Impact defender Michael Petrasso seemed to have stomped on the Swedish striker’s foot. As a result, Ibrahimovic slapped Petrasso in the head leading to a VAR review and the ejection.

“They could add another game,” Schmid explained. “I think it was being contemplated. It was also being appealed. So that final ruling hasn’t been completed.”

MLS’ Disciplinary Committee is capable of extending a suspension when they take a look at plays after the fact. Former Galaxy midfielder Nigel De Jong was very familiar with their rulings and saw himself on the end of a three-game suspension at least once during his short stay within the league.

And while Schmid mentions an appeal — an appeal that was launched by the Galaxy to preemptively protest or prevent the second game — it’s unclear if that’s the reason for the delay. There seems to be little question that Ibrahimovic didn’t deserve a red card. But anything more than that would be a stretch. Although Schmid had previously asked why no penalty kick was given when Petrasso, who received a yellow card on the play, stomped on Ibrahimovic’s foot.

But regardless of the appeal, MLS and the DisCo are now putting the Galaxy in a bind.

Without an answer on his availability, the club must train as if he’s both going to be allowed to play and be suspended. Wasting valuable training time in preparation for a conference opponent the Galaxy may actually have a chance of getting points from.

Additionally, any added ticket sales that would benefit a Wednesday night mid-week game, will be lost if Ibrahimovic’s status remains up in the air.

With eight days elapsing from the time of the incident to the writing of this article, it seems that MLS is either purposely delaying the decision on Ibrahimovic’s status, and/or they’re just incapable of coming to a timely determination. They know and understand the short turnaround the same as everyone else.

“Probably Thursday.” Schmid laughed when asked about when he expected a decision to come down. “Thursday they’ll tell us, ‘Oh, it was only one game. Sorry.’ I would expect we would get it today, but I expected we would get it yesterday or the day before.”

While the success and/or failure of the game probably won’t rely on this decision alone, is it really necessary to drag out something that should have been decided days ago?

Larry Morgan contributed to this article. 

UPDATED: 5.29.18, 9 a.m. – Article was updated with the nature of the appeal the Galaxy may have preemptively launched to prevent a second game being added to Ibrahimovic’s suspension.