CARSON, Calif. – It has been several days since LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined elite company by scoring the 500th goal of his professional career, and the Swedish international has gotten a better understanding of its impact.
The Swedish international, who joined Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi as the only active players to score 500 goals for club and country, has received congratulations from around the world after his roundhouse attempt flicked off his outstretched right foot and went into the net for No. 500 during last weekend’s 5-3 loss to Toronto FC.
He said former Galaxy standout David Beckham jokingly told him, “If you score 500, you’re really old in the game.”
Most of all, however, the goal came at the perfect time. Ibrahimovic, who turns 37 next month, is coming out with a new book – he said it just went into production – and the main chapter, understandably, was on his 500th goal.
“I’m relieved that it’s over for my book,” he jokingly told reporters after training Friday. “That was the main chapter. If I didn’t score that, it would have been 499.”
Ibrahimovic, preparing with his teammates for Sunday’s crucial clash with Seattle at StubHub Center (4 p.m., Fox Sports 1), said the importance of his historic accomplishment has grown each day.
“I’m super happy,” he said. “My target is Sweden because I’m from Sweden. I try to represent Sweden wherever I come and try to make all the Swedes proud for what I’m doing and put Sweden on the map.
“That is what my main goal is, coming from Sweden, that little country. I had a chance to play with all the big clubs and big players. The most fun is when I started my career they said this player’s good but he’s not able to score goals.
“This goes for all of them (critics) also,” he continued. “Like I prove to them I know how to score goals because I reach 500.”
Ibrahimovic was asked which of his Galaxy goals – he has 17 this season in only 22 games — were more memorable: his stunning, 40-yard strike against Los Angeles FC during his MLS debut on March 31 or the goal in Toronto.
“I think it’s two crazy goals. I like the goals that nobody can repeat,” he said with a grin. “I think the LAFC goal, it can happen again. The last goal cannot happen again.
“Only I can score a goal like that.”
Last Saturday’s loss in Toronto marked the return to the field of Baggio Husidic, who played 21 minutes in relief of Bradford Jamieson.
Husidic, the longest-tenured player on the Galaxy despite being in only his fifth season with the club, was well aware of how many consecutive games he had missed prior to last weekend’s appearance.
“Eleven,” he told a reporter. “You start counting when you don’t see the field often.”
Husidic said he still doesn’t know why he wasn’t used more often by former head coach Sigi Schmid, who recently resigned. Assistant coach Dominic Kinnear was named to the position on an interim basis.
“Obviously I wasn’t his cup of tea,” Husidic said of Schmid. “Of course you wonder why every day. I didn’t really have a relationship with Sigi; he never told me anything.
“Maybe I was too slow for him,” he went on with a laugh. “It was a tough stretch for me and I’m glad the change has come and I’m getting more opportunities now.”
Husidic said the inactivity had a definite effect on his game.
“Things that used to come natural start to become more difficult, and they seem fast rather than slow,” he said. “Loads of things are running through your head, and the hardest part is staying disciplined and confident in what you can do.
“You just have to put your head down and be a good pro,” he said. “That’s one thing I’ve done the whole year. I don’t think anyone can say I haven’t been a good pro or a good teammate.”
There continues to be good news and bad news on the team’s injury front.
Kinnear said the possibility midfielder Giovani dos Santos, who has been bothered by a strained quad, could be available Sunday is “very slim.” The same might be said for midfielder Bradford Jamieson, who has a strained hip and, like dos Santos, was an absentee from training on Friday.
Kinnear wouldn’t go so far as to call dos Santos a “fragile” player.
“I’ve only been here for a year, so I couldn’t tell you the history of him,” he said. “This year he had a good preseason, working toward the World Cup and a good year with us. It just seemed like every time he got it going he picked up a little injury.
“Luck is definitely not on his side for 2018 as far as the Galaxy goes.”
Midfielder Chris Pontius, who also worked out inside Friday, has a strained groin and likely will be listed as doubtful for the Seattle match, Kinnear said.
Things look promising for midfielder Sebastian Lletget, however. Lletget, who recently was forced to leave the U.S. national team camp with an abdominal strain, worked out fully Friday and could be ready to go this weekend.
“We want him involved in the 18 at some point. Either the 11 or the 18,” Kinnear said. “We’ll see. If Sebastian feels pretty good, he’s an important player for us.”