CARSON, Calif.—Zlatan Ibrahimovic won't arrive in Southern California until Thursday night and will meet his new teammates before Friday morning's training session. Could he truly be ready to go Saturday afternoon, when the LA Galaxy face off for the first time with crosstown rival Los Angeles Football Club (3pm ET | FOX)?
“You're talking about Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” said Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid, following LA's practice Tuesday morning at StubHub Center. “You're not talking about a normal, mortal human. I'm sure he'll tell you the same.
“He's a competitor. He loves to compete and he loves challenges. If you ask me is he 90 minutes fit for Saturday, no. But will he play a role in the game? Quite possibly.”
The 36-year-old Swedish superstar, long a Galaxy target, signed last week with LA after securing his release from Manchester United, but he's seen no game action since re-injuring his right knee in late December. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus while suffering additional damage during a UEFA Champions League match last April and returned to action in November.
He's played in just 187 minutes over seven games — five in the English Premier League, one in the Champions League and another in the League Cup — and has made just two starts.
Schmid said he and his staff are exploring the best ways to utilize Ibrahimovic once he's up to speed.
“I didn't want to do any of that until we got through with Vancouver [over the weekend], and obviously we think him coming in when he comes in, he might play a part in the LAFC game,” Schmid said. “But we really have to see where he's at physically.
“But, yeah, we're starting to think about how it could all fit together.”
Schmid has no doubt that Ibrahimovic will fit.
“He's a great player. Anytime you put a great player in the lineup, it helps you,” he said. “He's played in different systems, he's played as a solo striker, he's play in combination with another, he's played in a three-man front. He's played in a 4-2-3-1 [the Galaxy's favored formation].
“He's played in every system possible, and he knows how to play football. And if you know how to play football, you figure it out.”