Zlatan Ibrahimovic has won wherever he has played.
That’s what makes his first MLS season with the Los Angeles Galaxy so perplexing.
Despite Ibrahimovic’s Western Conference-leading 17 goals and team-leading eight assists in 22 matches, the Galaxy (10-11-8, 38 points) are six points out of a playoff berth with five regular-season games remaining.
They’ll host the team they have to catch, the sixth-place Seattle Sounders (13-10-5, 44 points), on Sunday afternoon at StubHub Center.
The Galaxy are winless in their past seven matches and are in danger of missing the playoffs for just the fifth time in their storied history.
“It’s a different challenge,” said Ibrahimovic, who came to the Galaxy from Manchester United. “The team I played for (before), I had that feeling like we were unbeatable. ... And now it’s like you come to a game, it feels like 50-50. Anything can happen.”
Take last weekend’s match at Toronto FC. The Galaxy fell behind by three goals only to tie the score, thanks in part to Ibrahimovic’s 500th career goal. But Toronto scored twice late to win 5-3.
“We don’t want to chase the games. We were chasing the (Toronto) game the whole time. That’s not the type of game we want to play,” said Ibrahimovic, who will turn 37 next month. “We are in a difficult situation where we need to climb out of it. We haven’t come out of that hole.”
The Sounders had their nine-game winning streak, an MLS record in the post-shootout era, and 12-game unbeaten streak snapped at home Wednesday with a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia. The Union, who had a player sent off in the 89th minute, scored the lone goal in second-half stoppage time.
“We’re very proud of what this team has accomplished,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We put ourselves in a massive hole (in the first half of the season), and we’ve climbed out of it. There’s still work to do, but winning nine games in a row is an accomplishment that was a big one. We all knew it was going to end at some point, we all knew. The fashion it ended in is what makes it sting.”
Forward Raul Ruidiaz, a midseason acquisition whose first appearance for the Sounders coincided with the start of their winning streak, suffered a right ankle sprain in the first half against Philadelphia and had to leave the game. He is questionable for Sunday’s match.
The Sounders won the only previous meeting this season between the teams, 5-0 on Aug. 18 in Seattle. Ibrahimovic didn’t play in that game because of the turf at CenturyLink Field.
The Galaxy lead the all-time series 9-7-9, including 5-3-4 at home.
—Field Level Media