zlatan ibrahimovic

Yesterday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic provided the only scoring in a 1-0 L.A. Galaxy win at the Chicago Fire that embodied the old cliche “a tale of two halves.” It’s fitting because 2017-18 has certainly been a tale of two seasons for Ibrahimovic, when you look at his statistical splits between Manchester United and the Galaxy.

The stark contrast in his role and his production perfectly embodies the really big fish in a small pond idea, and truly conveys what happens when a superstar footballer drops way down in weight class of the league he plays in. Zlatan is dominating MLS, and he’s found a perfect home in Los Angeles, because he is just about as Hollywood as anyone in the beautiful game.

A Galaxy rep estimated that they have received about 400 interview requests for Ibra since he joined the team a couple weeks ago. He was about five million followers on Twitter and 31 million on Instagram.

Ibrahimovic has played 127 minutes since he arrived in Los Angeles, and he’s got three goals to his name, and more importantly the Galaxy have won six points from the mercurial Swede’s first three games in Major League Soccer. On the very young season, he’s helped propel last year’s last-place in the Western Conference team up to second place

Contrast that against the portion of the season that he spent with Manchester United, where he had just one goal in two starts and five substitute appearances across all competitions.

The 36-year-old is still working his way up to true match fitness, having torn his ACL about a year ago against Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals.

(Editor’s note: I lent my expertise to this ABC 7 Chicago piece on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, have a watch below:)

It’s obviously a very serious injury to come back from, and Ibrahimovic still doesn’t look the player he was in his prime. He was often the only Galaxy player behind the ball yesterday and he blew plenty of scoring chances that he should have converted.

“I feel like I should have scored another two goals. I missed two great chances which normally, I shouldn’t have missed, but today I did,” Ibrahimovic told reporters, who waited close to an hour for him, during a three and a half minute media session after the game.

“We won the game, even though it was difficult. It was not an easy game, especially with the weather. We come with the sun, they come with the wind, but the sun was the stronger one today.”

A not currently at his prime Zlatan is still good enough to dominate in MLS, but not good enough to get regular first team opportunities in the Premier League. Of course, he was United’s leading scorer last season, prior to his getting hurt.

Audio of the very short Zlatan media session is below (note: they limited the Q&A so much that they even cut off a reporter from Sweden! Ibra’s homeland!):

Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid says we’ll see the Swedish superstar more and more as he convalesces and regains match fitness.

“I’m happy that he got the goal,” Schmid said after Zlatan’s first start in MLS, which almost lasted the entire game.

“I think his performance will get better and better. Today, him getting [79 minutes] in the game, his fitness and sharpness will come.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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