CARSON, Calif.—The LA Galaxy have a knack for starting slow, falling behind, then roaring back to win, or draw, and they pulled out another one Saturday night to doom Orlando City SC to their 12th defeat in 13 outings.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic played savior again, scoring a second-half hat trick – his first three-goal MLS game – after assisting Giovani Dos Santos' strike in the first half as LA rallied from three deficits for a 4-3 triumph.
That's four straight games the Galaxy (10-7-5) have come from behind to claim points, three of them victories, as they pushed their unbeaten streak to nine games and climbed to third in the Western Conference.
“I told the team just now after the game, if we keep doing this, I'll be 90 by the time the season's over,” said 65-year-old Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid. “It's great for the fans, great for TV and all that stuff, but it's really hard on me emotionally.”
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LA are 7-1-4 since mid-May, and this is the sixth time in that stretch they've conceded multiple goals, the third time their foe has netted three. They're averaging three goals over their last eight goals, and Ibrahimovic has much to do with that.
“He's the most physically imposing player this league has ever had at forward,” Schmid said. “You go all the way back to the old days, and you talk about a Mamadou Diallo and some people like that who were physically beasts and big guys and had a little bit of pace. But when Ibra posts up, it's like [NBA legend Shaquillle] O'Neal. You just don't move him.
“We try to take advantage of that. Sometimes it's not maybe the most eye-pleasing football that you want to see, but it's effective football for us.”
Ibrahmovic headed home crosses from Dos Santos [just after halftime to tie the score at 2] and Ola Kamara [in the 67th minute to make it 3-3], then put away the winner in the 71st, chesting down a poor clearance from Lions defender Amro Tarek and blistering the ball to the left side of the net.
He nearly added two more in the closing minutes.
“I was tired the last 10, 15 minutes, or else I would do five goals,” Ibrahimovic said. “Sorry that I missed the two opportunities I had, because I would kill that also. I'm more angry for that than my three goals, because that's my mentality. I always want more. I always strive for more, and I'm never satisfied. That's why maybe I arrived and I did what I did in my career.”
The Swedish superstar has 15 goals and 6 assists in 17 games for LA, and he has 12 and three in his last nine appearances. The wins are great, but LA's propensity for poor starts and early deficits isn't a plus, no matter what magic Ibrahimovic summons.
“Since he's come here, he's scored important goals for us and dug us out of very, very deep holes,” said captain Ashley Cole. “We keep conceding silly and sloppy goals. Against good teams, like [Sporting] Kansas [City] and Atlanta [United], I think we're going to get punished.
“When you concede three goals again, whether we win or not, you can't be happy.”
Less pleased still were Orlando City (7-14-1), which dropped their third in a row and fourth in five games since head coach James O'Connor took over from Jason Kreis. Cristian Higuita and a Galaxy own goal provided first-half leads, and Dom Dwyer's ninth goal of the year made it 3-2 seven minutes after Ibrahimovic's first.
“It definitely hurts,” O'Connor said. “But if you look at the quality of our play, you can take a lot away from our first-half performance. But you can't come to Galaxy and score three goals and not get anything. You can't defend like that. It's really, really frustrating ... It's ridiculous.”