Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Group Hug - Ola Kamara
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LA Galaxy find "higher intensity" to open preseason under Schelotto

CARSON, Calif. – Zlatan Ibrahimovic heads into his second Major League Soccer campaign optimistic that the LA Galaxy, under new leadership on the field and the front office, can compete for trophies.

“I think like last season, we have a team that can do it,” the Swedish striker said after Wednesday's training session at Dignity Health Sports Park during his and the club's first media availability. “Obviously, one or two or three new players coming in, some players leaving, new coach, so everything is new.

“But I have belief. I trust in what we are doing, and I'm very confident after playing one season in MLS now, understand it more so I am very hopeful.”

Guillermo Barros Schelotto, whom the Galaxy introduced just after the New Year, is the third head coach Ibrahimovic has played for since joining the club last March. He said the former Boca Juniors boss “fits us good,” that his “vision is to attack” and that his approach is more tactical than that of last year's coaches – the late Sigi Schmid, who left the club in September, and interim boss Dominic Kinnear, who is part of Barros Schelotto's staff.

Javier Valdecantos, one of three coaches following Barros Schelotto from Boca Juniors, is in charge of physical preparation, and the work through three days of came has been strenuous. Forward Ola Kamara said there was “higher intensity ... and I think the intensity was maybe something we lacked last year.”

“We're working hard, and the whole team is working. Everybody's available ...,” said Ibrahimovic, who signed a Designated Player deal over the offseason. “I believe in working hard now, because now is very important for your base and your preparation, and then you keep it for the whole season.”

He's 37, but that's not so important, he says. What is is that he feels better now than he did a year ago, when he was still with Manchester United trying to come back from a serious knee injury.

“I'm doing every session, even if it's only [been] three days,” Ibrahimovic said. “They're asking me to [skip] some exercises. I don't want [to]. I want to do everything, because if my team runs, I run. If my team suffers, I suffer. ... The important thing is my mentality, and that is bullet proof.”

Ibrahimovic's new status leaves the Galaxy needing to shed one Designated Player before the roster compliance date ahead of the March 2 opener at home against the Chicago Fire, and all four – Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos are the others – are in camp.

“I am one of them now, and it's nothing I think about,” he said. “My focus is I'm here for another season, I want to work hard, I work hard, then whoever drops out from the Designated Player [list], I don't know. I hope everybody stays because it's quality players, all of them.

“Let's see. Hopefully, everybody gets satisfied and happy and we can continue to work just like we're doing.”


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