Two of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer will square off on Saturday night, with the L.A. Galaxy also boasting perhaps the league’s most in-form player as they challenge the New England Revolution on the road.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has eight goals over his last six matches, including a four-match scoring streak. The former Swedish international is now tied for second in league scoring with 11 goals, though he has played only 973 minutes this season. The two players tied with him, Gyasi Zardes and Bradley Wright-Phillips, have played a combined 3,010 minutes.
Ibrahimovic’s excellent play has been a major reason behind his club’s five-game unbeaten streak, which has put the Galaxy (7-7-4, 25 points) back into the Western Conference playoff race. Los Angeles enters Saturday’s match a point behind sixth-place Vancouver, with Houston also sitting level with the Galaxy in the Western table.
In facing Ibrahimovic, the Revolution’s back line could be short a regular. Defender Claude Dielna is dealing with “a little bit of a muscle issue in his lower back,” according to New England coach Brad Friedel, and Dielna missed a day of training this week. This same back issue limited Dielna to just 45 minutes last Saturday against the Seattle Sounders.
Though the Revolution (7-4-7, 28 points) are unbeaten in their last seven games, five of those results have been draws. This has led to a bit of dissatisfaction, particularly after New England’s attack was stifled in a scoreless draw against Seattle at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s always frustrating at home because we know how good we are at home,” forward Juan Agudelo said. “We know what quality we possess individually as players, so we definitely take this as a loss.”
There should be much more opportunity for offense on Saturday, given L.A.’s open style of play.
“They do hit an incredible amount of long balls, very uncharacteristic of the Los Angeles Galaxy teams in the past,” Friedel said. “More times than not, [goalkeeper David] Bingham hits the ball long, so it could turn into a little bit of a second ball game, but saying that there will be more space for us to attack.”
—Field Level Media