zLAtan Headed to MLS Playoffs

Koen Samuel, Assistant Editor

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Los Angeles Galaxy are officially headed to the MLS Playoffs. They booked their ticket to the postseason with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake away from home last Wednesday night. Their playoff berth comes with two games still to play in the regular season, a contrast of last year where they lost on “Decision Day” and were eliminated from playoff contention. 

Christian Pavon scored in the 50th minute and then half an hour later, Ibrahimovic finished the game off with a thundering strike inside the box off a pass from Pavon to finish off the hosts. By time Salt Lake pulled one back, it was too late. 

Much of their success this season can be attributed to one of their outstanding performers from last year, captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After a majestic first season in MLS, netting 22 goals and notching 10 assists in just 26 games, the talisman has only elevated his level of play this season. Even with two games remaining, he’s notched an impressive 28 goals and six assists in just 27 games this season. He has certainly made his case for MVP. His leadership has helped the Galaxy on and off the field and he himself has delivered in the big games, helping them grind out results when they needed points the most. 

This Galaxy side is one that didn’t have too many changes from last year, with the only major changes being the additions of Uriel Antuna and Christian Pavon. They have been able to provide Ibrahimovic with service and link-up play, but have also been able to create goal scoring opportunities for themselves. Despite Pavon only arriving in the summer, he has been an instant contributor and completes the clinical front three of the Galaxy attack. 

But while their attack is probably the most identifiable part of the team, the defense is the most improved part of the team. Goalkeeper David Bingham currently leads the league in total saves and is tied for third in clean sheets with eight on the season. Bingham’s reliability and consistency at the back has been key for this Galaxy team, as his improvement has resulted in covering up lapses that would have led to goals last year. 

This Galaxy season started out keeping pace with Western Conference and league leaders, in city rivals LAFC, but a difficult summer saw them fall back and lose pace. 

However, over the past month or so, they have recovered their best form and with three straight wins, they are peaking at the right time. In my opinion, this team has a really good chance of going deep in MLS Cup and potentially lifting the trophy. The team’s backbone of Bingham at the back, Jonathan Dos Santos in midfield, and Ibrahimovic leading the attack has this team looking like something more than just potential on paper. 

After a two year absence, they have finally returned to the playoffs, and have shown throughout the course of the regular season that they can matchup with the likes of LAFC, despite being 20 points behind them in the standings. Couple that with the new MLS Playoff format, the Galaxy have shown they can hang with the league’s best and beat anybody in a one-off game. But we’ll have to wait. For now, Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy are just one step closer to conquering America.