CARSON, Calif. (AP) Nearly a week afterward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic realizes the soccer world is still buzzing about his spectacular debut for the LA Galaxy.
After all, he has spent every day since then hearing from fans and media who still can’t believe his two-goal performance actually happened.
So after a full week of training with his new club and a chance to tame his jet lag, what can Zlatan do for an encore this weekend when the Galaxy host Sporting Kansas City?
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”Do I expect scoring goals like this in every game? No,” Ibrahimovic said Friday after practice at StubHub Center. ”I can already kill the buzz. Every week will not be like this. Play good, prepare good, win the games, and that’s the way it works. … A crazy game like that again? I hope not. I hope we can control the game better and play under control.
”I don’t expect crazy things every game. I’ll try, but it’s not often it goes in.”
Ibrahimovic will be back in uniform Sunday night, but Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid hasn’t decided whether his Swedish superstar will make his first start. While Zlatan looked invincible in his debut, the game was his first since Dec. 26 with Manchester United, and he’ll need time to reach full match fitness.
He needed no time at all to put a charge into his new club. The Galaxy’s comeback from a three-goal deficit for a 4-3 win over Los Angeles FC was an indelible moment in Zlatan’s legend, but it also could be a catapult back to contention for the five-time champion club that finished at the bottom of the league standings last season.
And as for Zlatan’s opening goal , nobody in LA is tired of watching the highlight just yet.
”As a coach, you learn not to get too high and not to get too low, but certainly that goal is as good a goal as you’ll see – ever,” Schmid said. ”As I said when we showed the guys again on tape on Tuesday, I got goose bumps all over again. It’s a great goal.”
While he’s getting his body clock on California time, Ibrahimovic is also settling into Los Angeles this week with his family, some training and a bit of fun. He attended a Los Angeles Kings game downtown Thursday night, chatting with their Swedish players and even getting into the hockey players’ traditional pregame soccer warmups .
Ibrahimovic boldly declared his intention to win trophies when he arrived in Los Angeles last month, but he also wants to fit in well with his new team and its disparate collection of players gathered from Europe, South America and the U.S.
The Galaxy knew the caliber of player abruptly landing in their midst, but they’re impressed by his work ethic and his interest in every member of the roster. French wing Romain Alessandrini, who could return from injury Sunday, has already noticed the change in training.
”When you’re (playing with) a player like that, you give more than you have to give, because you have to be perfect with him,” Alessandrini said. ”You have to give him the good ball. I think it’s good for everybody, because everybody wants to give more than they give.”
Alessandrini played against Ibrahimovic in France’s Ligue 1 before leaving Marseilles for the Galaxy last season. Alessandrini became one of MLS’ top players despite the Galaxy’s 2017 struggles, but now he sees no limits on the club’s ambition.
”During the preseason, we had a lot of expectation for this season, but now with Zlatan, we have to get to the playoff and we have to win the championship,” Alessandrini said. ”That’s it.”
Ibrahimovic won’t predict how many minutes he’ll play against Kansas City. He played mostly on adrenaline last week, and he still feels the jet lag.
But while he won’t predict fireworks, the 36-year-old new guy is eager to show LA what he can still do each week.
”I think I’m doing something I’ve been doing for 20 years,” Ibrahimovic said. ”People may think that I exaggerate or something, but the things I’ve been doing, it’s another day at work. The only difference was I haven’t played for a long time, and now I played, so I’m happy. I’m happy to help. I’m happy to give back and to do my best for Galaxy. I’m doing it for the fans.
”I feel alive. Let’s say it like that.”
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