When Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his MLS debut for the LA Galaxy (3-5-1, 10 points) four weeks ago, all he did was score two goals, including a brilliant strike some 40 yards from the goal, to lead a 4-3 comeback win over Los Angeles FC.
It was a brilliant beginning to a new chapter in the storied Swedish striker’s career, but the results since then have been wanting for the club. Since that stirring victory, the Galaxy have gone 1-4-0 (with “Ibra” scoring the lone goal in that one victory), and are sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference as they prepare to face FC Dallas (3-1-4, 13 points) in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday.
Frankly, both clubs could use a win: Dallas to solidify its place in the standings and to establish the legitimacy of its postseason hopes. For the Galaxy, these matches are starting to feel like season-saving endeavors, and after three consecutive losses, a road win could spark a regular-season renaissance for the club’s plummeting fortunes.
Dallas’ home record is reflective of their season as a whole — 1-1-1 isn’t setting the league on fire. Surely the home club would like to make Toyota Stadium a less hospitable place for opponents. The Galaxy, on the other hand, just need the three points and a bit of momentum.
For the Galaxy to achieve that, they will have to tighten up their defense. They’ve conceded 16 goals on the season, and Dallas has been fairly stingy, surrendering only seven goals in eight matches. In addition, both teams could stand to increase their offensive production. The Galaxy especially have suffered from a run of bad luck, with a number of disallowed goals adding to their frustration.
Based on season results so far, one might expect a low-scoring affair, but with a player like Ibra on the pitch, anything is possible, especially as he continues to integrate with his new teammates and adjust to MLS play.
Dallas will try to keep Ibra in check without the services of young defender Kris Reaves, who is out 4-6 weeks after sports hernia surgery this week. Reaves was in the top 18 for five of the club’s eight matches, but has yet to play. Dallas also will be without midfielder Victor Ulloa (quad injury).
The Galaxy are missing defender Rolf Feltscher (right shoulder surgery) and midfielder Bradford Jamieson (concussion). Feltscher’s absence, in particular, will make snapping the club’s current slump that much more difficult.
—Field Level Media