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The Galaxy and MLS Have a Zlatan Problem/Blessing

December 18th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Football, Galaxy, soccer

Good news, for L.A. Galaxy fans.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed on for another season with the Major League Soccer club. Here is video, via the Galaxy, of him talking about it.

The return of the hulking Swede with the pony-tail, a 500-goal scorer who will be 37 during the 2019 season, improves the club’s chances of making the 2019 MLS playoffs — as well as the Galaxy’s chances of adding another MLS Cup to a collection that already includes five.

Ibrahimovic’s return to the Galaxy, announced today, also is a boon for Major League Soccer, given that the prolific scorer is the league’s most famous player, comfortably ahead of Wayne Rooney and Carlos Vela.

But it is not all good news for the Galaxy and MLS for one simple yet obvious reason:

Ibrahimovic is so good … he makes the club and the league look second-rate.

More so than any other foreign star who has played in the league. Way ahead of David Beckham. Miles ahead of David Villa or Thierry Henry or Carlos Valderrama — and certainly light years ahead of anyone who showed up in the MLS so late in his career, so soon after a serious injury, and been such a dominant player.

Consider:

–On April 20 of last year, Ibrahimovic suffered a major knee injury while playing for Manchester United. He got into a game in November and made his first start in December, but it became clear he and United agreed he needed to move. On March 23 he signed with the Galaxy, and a week later he highlighted the talent void between himself and the league with two goals off the bench, including a 45-yard rocket that eventually was named the league’s Goal of the Year.

–Ibrahimovic’s late arrival meant he missed the club’s first three matches. Thereafter, he appeared in 27 of 31 matches and scored 22 goals — the 11th-highest one-season goals total in MLS history. He added 10 assists, and his 32 combined goals and assists tied for the sixth-most in league history.

–Did we mention Ibrahimovic was 36 during the 2018 season? That he had played in exactly five matches over the previous year because of that knee surgery?

He also made most everyone in the league seem dull and monochromatic.

When he signed with the Galaxy, he paid for a full-page advertisement that contained the following words:

“Dear Los Angeles,

“You’re welcome”

Then he lived up to the predictable bravado, dominating the league in his shortened season and nearly dragging the Galaxy into the playoffs without much help.

His first match? Not only did he score that screamer from distance, he headed in the winning goal in the 91st minute of the same game as the Galaxy defeated arch-rivals Los Angeles FC.

After that match, he said: “I heard the crowd saying, ‘We want Zlatan, we want Zlatan.’ So I gave them Zlatan.”

During the 2018 season, he also scored his 500th goal, when adding his club goals to his Swedish international total. THe only other players to score 500 goals? Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

So, Zlatan remains in MLS, at age 37, presumably making about as much money, this season, as anyone who ever has appeared in the league — and it has to be on the high side of $5 million, doesn’t it?

(MLS is militant about not divulging salary figures, presumably because the numbers are so modest.)

Whatever Zlatan is getting, he is worth it. Because he makes Major League Soccer more interesting.

But he also makes it look even further behind European club soccer than we thought, because a guy Manchester United didn’t think it needed anymore … got on a plane heading to Los Angeles and took over the league in a matter of weeks.

 

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Gene Hiigel // Dec 18, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    It is funny that MLS is so adamant about not releasing salary figures because come April the MLS Players Association will publish the salary of every player in the league (they have done this for at least the past five years).

    Here is the 2018 list. https://mlsplayers.org/resources/salary-guide

    Zlatan made $1,500,000 last year, but rumors are that next year is in excess of $5 million. I can’t remember why, but there was some reason that his salary was artificially low last season.

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