CARSON, Calif. — How does Zlatan Ibrahimovic top his breathtaking MLS debut?
That's not in the plans.
If it happens, wonderful, but that spectacular goal to pull the LA Galaxy even after falling behind by three goals in its initial showdown with new crosstown rival LAFC — and that stoppage-time header to win it — isn’t normal, even for the great Zlatan.
“I expect scoring goals like this every game? No,” he said after Friday's training session, two days before the StubHub Center faceoff with streaking Sporting Kansas City (9 pm ET | FS1). “This I can already kill the buzz. Every week will not be like this. Prepare good, prepare [for the] game, win the game, and that's the way it works, and in the end the best team will win everything. So that's how it works.
“But crazy game like that again? I hope not. I hope we can control the game better, more, and play under control. Let's see. I try to do my best every game and I try to help teammates and win the game. I don't expect crazy things every game. I'll try, but it's not often it goes in, so please.”
Whether the Swedish superstar will make his first league start Sunday evening, and how many minutes can be reasonable expected from him, isn't certain – he’s still building fitness and learning the ways of his teammates – but no question he'll have more teammates he can try to help.
Attacking midfielder Giovani dos Santos will need “another week, two weeks,” according to LA Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid.
“Pretty much everybody has been in training [this week],” Schmid said. “Gio is the only one who hasn't. ... He was coming back from his [hamstring] injury, and I think it just retightened on him. Nothing that he did or we did or anything, just as he trained he felt it get tight again, and so we backed off. The decision was let's give it a little more time. It needs a little more time.”
How many and which of the returning players will be in the starting XI vs. SKC will be determined after Saturday's practice.
“When you do your starting lineup and you've got guys coming back from injury, you want to make sure you don't have too many starters you might have to take off after 60 minutes,” Schmid said.
Ibrahimovic is in that class, too, as is Sebastian Lletget, who says he's ready to play, but has been experience pain after his foot — not the left foot, which was so badly hurt last year — was stepped on during the draw in Vancouver two weeks ago. Lletget has seen more minutes, with Alessandrini and the dos Santos brothers missing, than Schmid had hoped to give him as he returns from that injury.
Alessandrini, the Galaxy's primary offensive catalyst last year, hurt his hamstring in the season opener and needs to build his fitness base again, but he's anxious to get on the field, especially with Ibrahimovic around.
“I think I need a few weeks to be 100 percent, but right now I feel good and I know I can give a lot of things for the team ...,” he said. “You know when you have a player like [Ibrahimovic], the defense is focused on him, so it's good for me [and] for Jona. ...
“When you [play alongside] a player like that, you give more than you have to give. Because you have to be perfect with him, you have to give him the good ball, so I think it's good for everybody, because everybody wants to give more.”
With Ibrahimovic, Alessandrini said, “we have to go to the playoffs and we have to win the championship. That's it.”
Ibrahimovic says he still feels “in the jet lag” after arriving in Los Angeles late last week, and his focus is on acclimating to his new surroundings and getting up to speed, not blowing minds every time he touches the ball.
“The important thing is to settle in, to get to know the players, to train good and prepare for the next game,” he said. “Because the last game is already passed by, and now it’s a new game on Sunday. So let’s focus on that game, not focus on the last game. Bring the positive from the last game and make better for the negative things.”