MLS play-offs: is Zlatan Ibrahimovic heading back to Europe after LA Galaxy miss out on post-season in his first year?
- Despite leading his team in goals and assists, the Swedish striker couldn’t will his team to a play-off berth
Apparently scoring 22 goals, adding 10 assists in 27 games, and snagging a Major League Soccer MVP nomination in the process isn’t enough to carry your squad to the MLS play-offs these days.
While LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic delivered on the field, silencing critics who had concerns over his surgically restructured knee (the operation was performed by Freddie Fu Ho-keung, a Hong Kong-raised doctor), his team ultimately failed to make the 2018 MLS play-offs.
Galaxy missed grabbing the final spot in the Western Conference by one point, a place they could have secured in the final game of the season when they took on lowly Houston Dynamo (who finished ninth in the conference). But Galaxy delivered a first rate choke artist performance, losing 3-2 after being up 2-0 at the end of the first half. Houston scored three unanswered goals in the second half to upset Ibrahimovic’s side and deny them a play-off berth.
The swede, 36, seems to be enjoying the Hollywood lifestyle, appearing on Ellen to surprise the rescued Thai soccer team, as well as making an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where he performed the viral ‘floss’ dance and said his seven syllable name with a mouthful of marshmallows.
According to Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily newspaper, AC Milan are reportedly interested in bringing back Ibrahimovic, six years after he left the club, to help bolster their forward line. The report states the club is looking for a third striker to join Patrick Cutrone and Gonzalo Higuain and that Ibrahimovic’s agent has met with Milan’s sporting director Leonardo to discuss the possibility of a switch.
Ibrahimovic originally signed a one-year deal with LA Galaxy for US$1.5 million (HK$11.7 million) that expires this December after the MLS play-offs are over.
In an interview with The XTRA before his team’s match against Houston, Ibrahimovic dismissed rumours he was contemplating a return to Europe to Real Madrid or AC Milan after an excellent individual season with Galaxy.
“My focus is on Saturday,” he answered before ending the interview abruptly.
Galaxy missed the play-offs for the second year in a row, however Wayne Rooney, who went from Everton at the start of the season to play for DC United, did make the play-offs. Rooney was also nominated for league MVP along with Ibrahimovic.
Two of Ibrahimovic’s goals this season were also nominated for the 2018 MLS Goal of the Year, including his 500th for club and country against Toronto FC in which he performed a spinning heel kick into the net.