VANCOUVER, B.C. — There’s no doubting that the MLS team making the most headlines to round off the month of March is the LA Galaxy.
Friday's announcement of the signing of striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was followed by a goalless draw by a vastly undermanned Galaxy squad against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. All that comes before a first-ever derby match against LAFC Saturday (3 pm ET | FOX)
The much anticipated arrival of Ibrahimovic couldn't have come at a better time for the banged up LA Galaxy, who hope to soon welcome back a number of players from injury and international duty. But will their new star striker be fit to face their new rivals Saturday?
“It's a situation [where] obviously we hope to get some guys back next week, in terms of the injuries," Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid told reporters after the draw Vancouver. "We also get Zlatan in. Exactly when he’s coming, we’re not 100 percent sure, and we’ve got to see where he’s at fitness-wise. But things are looking up for next week."
There's no doubting that a fully fit Ibrahimovic will be a regular starter for the LA Galaxy and one of the first names on the team sheet. Just how he'll be utilized with the team's other attacking talent remains to be seen.
The Galaxy already have Ola Kamara up front, and the striker is coming back from scoring a hat-trick in a dominant 4-1 victory for Norway over Australia on Friday. Whether fans can expect to see a tandem of the two or whether the prolific Norwegian will have to play more of a reduced role moving forward, is one of the big questions, and right now, Schmid doesn't have those answers.
"We're going to have to try and figure that out," Schmid chuckled. "I didn't want to think about that a whole lot [before Vancouver]. I wanted to make sure we had this game plan right. I'll probably throw some lineups or different formations on the board and see what I think works and what makes sense.
"But Ola's an important player to our team, because of his ability to score goals and because of his ability to stretch the defense. At times Zlatan's played very well with that kind of a player. I'm sure we can establish a connection and a combination there."
However the LA Galaxy will look moving forward, the buzz around Ibrahimovic continues to grow in the City of Angels, and it's not just amongst the supporters. His new teammates are also keen to see the Swede join up with them and what he will offer the Galaxy moving forward.
"He's a guy who's accomplished everything," Servando Carrasco told MLSsoccer.com. "We also know that he's very hungry. He wants to come here, and he wants to help us win. He's still a guy who feels like he has a lot to prove, and that's a perfect recipe for us. We need a guy who's going to score goals like Ola (Kamara) has... so to think about the formation that we can field, is very exciting."
And for anyone wondering whether a 36-year-old Ibrahimovic can make an impact for the LA Galaxy, Carrasco has no doubts about that at all.
"First and foremost from seeing him play, he's a fierce competitor," Carrasco noted. "He's a guy who demands the best from himself. That's exactly what we're expecting. I think from what we've heard, he's fit, he's ready to go. We're expecting a guy who comes in fired up for sure."