CARSON, Calif. – Every game matters, as far as the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is concerned.
It could be a scrimmage or a preseason match. Regardless, he’s in it to win it.
“Every game counts,” he said.
That helps explain why he went the full 90 minutes in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the visiting Colorado Rapids in front of an announced crowd of 10,329 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
It was the Galaxy’s final tune-up before the regular-season opener against the Chicago Fire on March 2, and the five-time MLS Cup champions look to be far from a finished product.
“We learn from the mistakes and we are here to develop, to make progress,” he said.
The Galaxy certainly made their share of them, most of those attributed to a makeshift midfield that suddenly is lacking healthy bodies. Missing Saturday, for example, were the likes of Jonathan dos Santos (precautionary), Perry Kitchen (right ankle), Sebastian Lletget (right hamstring) and Juninho (knee), leaving the untested duo of veteran Servando Carrasco and draftee Emil Cuello to battle a Rapids trio of Kei Kamara, Nicolas Mezquida and Diego Rubio which gave them fits all night. Rubio, in fact, scored two goals, including the clincher in the 85th minute.
Ibrahimovic was one of seven Galaxy players to go the full 90 minutes. That wasn’t the intention for the Swedish international to play that long, but he told head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto he was up to it.
“I was feeling good,” said Ibrahimovic, who had two good scoring chances. One was a shot in the 29th minute from outside the top of the penalty area that barely went over the crossbar. The other occurred 19 minutes later, when Rapids goalie Tim Howard denied him at almost point-blank range.
“I was feeling active,” Ibrahimovic continued. “I was supposed to play one hour, but I was feeling good and I said, ‘Let’s continue.’
“And I still feel good,” he told reporters after the match. “So no complaints.”
Ibrahimovic said Saturday’s match was somewhat reminiscent of the Galaxy’s erratic 2018 season – “Up and down; it reminded me of last season when we were disorganized,” he said – but he cautioned there is no reason to worry despite the regular season starting in a week.
“We are working hard and it will be better,” he said. “The important thing is we keep following what we are supposed to do and should do. Today it looked like it was not working, but we have another week to work, so let’s judge when we start to play the real games.”
Ibrahimovic said Saturday’s result did not leave him concerned. There is only one way to go about things, he pointed out.“We have to do it better,” he said. “Because it’s here that you prepare for the real games, so we’re working hard and hopefully we learn from these mistakes. I know you heard me say that a lot of times last season, so let’s continue to work.”