HARRISON, N.J. — For the first time since joining the LA Galaxy, Zlatan Ibrahimovic brought his show to the New York area and the largest crowd of the season — 20,128 — packed Red Bull Arena to catch a glimpse of the global icon.
“We lost the game,” Ibrahimovic said. “It doesn’t matter what I did.”
In addition to a healthy amount of traveling support, many in New York’s Swedish community came out to watch Ibrahimovic, something he noticed and appreciated.
“I’m happy they came,” he said. “I have a great support from Sweden. You can see many yellow shirts around and flags. I’m happy they came and I think they enjoyed the game. They got to see five goals and I scored one of them.”
While Aaron Long drew the primary assignment of trying to keep Ibrahimovic off the scoresheet, the Galaxy captain dismissed the notion the Red Bulls did anything to stymie the Galaxy’s attack.
“We missed a lot of chances,” he said. “If we would have scored, we would have won. But they didn’t make it difficult for us.”
There were chances, and opportunities that went wasted, including a Chris Pontius header off the post and a pair of late Ibrahimovic chances, one saved by Luis Robles and the other a free kick that deflected off the wall deep in stoppage time.
“They played their game. A lot of fight and a lot of duels, a lot of aerial play,” said Jonathan dos Santos of RBNY. “I think their three goals were more for our errors than their luck. This loss hurts and reminds us that we need to improve in certain aspects. I don’t think they played a better game than us.”
Although disappointed by the result, Ibrahimovic was pleased with the way his team played. On another day, perhaps, breaks go their way or they bury a few more of their 22 shots.
“We played a very good game,” Ibrahimovic said. “In the second [half] we lost some position when we conceded the goals. But we hit the post, we had one against one. We had a lot of chances. We should have scored a lot. Sometimes this happens and this is just to learn from it and to go to the next game and keep working and keep trying. Then we’ll get credit back for it.”
It’s a performance the Galaxy can use and build on for a midweek game against Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium.
“I think New York did not play better than us. We had to get something [out of the match]," head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. "Even the third goal was very irregular situation. It’s very clear that the NY player is offside. But soccer is like that. Sometimes you win, you can tie and lose. But we lost and we need to recover with three points in Ohio.”
“They never tried to play. When they get the ball, they play long ball and they got the goal that way in first half," he added. "In the second half they pressed but they didn’t play much better than us. And they found the goals.”