Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bastian Schweinsteiger - LA Galaxy Chicago Fire
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Week 1: How many goals should we expect in LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire?

As part of our countdown to MLS opening weekend, we're taking a look at each Week 1 match. On Monday, we break down the storylines around the LA Galaxy-Chicago Fire match on March 2 (8 pm ET | FS1).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Bastian Schweinsteiger on FS1 on Saturday night of Major League Soccer's opening weekend? Yes, please.

The LA Galaxy welcome the Chicago Fire to Dignity Health Sports Park as two clubs who missed the postseason in 2018 look to climb above the playoff line this year. It all starts with Week 1. 

Here are three things to watch as the Galaxy host the Fire:

Zlatan's quest to break all the records

Obviously starting with Zlatan here. 

Ibrahimovic is coming off a first season in MLS marked by 22 goals and 10 assists in just 27 appearances (2,143 minutes), en route to picking up the 2018 MLS Newcomer of the Year award. For an encore, he pledges to "break all the records" in MLS.

The 37-year-old has been up to the task in preseason under new boss Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who has switched from his preferred 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, accommodating Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara up front. The Galaxy will score a bunch of goals this season, often thanks to Ibrahimovic. 

Last year Ibra debuted with two goals off the bench against LAFC in El Trafico, helping orchestrate a monumental comeback and 4-3 win. What will his 2019 debut look like?

Fire's front six

Matt Doyle laid this out last week, but barring injuries, the Fire sneakily have one of the league's strongest front sixes.

The club are projected to start Dax McCarty and Schweinsteiger behind Aleksandar Katai, Djordje Mihailovic and Przemyslaw Frankowski, with 2017 MLS Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic up top. This unit should dominate possession, create a ton of chances for Nikolic and get goals from the midfield. That should be fun!

Katai showed last season how capable he is of individual brilliance, while Mihailovic is looking to go from strength to strength: The 20-year-old punctuated his US national team debut with a goal in January.  

Defensive uncertainties on both sides

LA's Perry Kitchen reacts after another defensive breakdown in 2018 | USA Today Sports Images

Neutrals may wish to note that this matchup is shaping up as one of the highest-scoring games on the Week 1 slate. We've run through the attacking riches each side possesses when at their best, but looking further down the field on each side, there are a ton of questions. 

Both the Fire and Galaxy added a center back with the potential to singlehandedly usher in positive change in the back, as Marcelo arrives in the Windy City from Sporting CP and Diego Polenta to SoCal from Nacional. But they were the only major defensive additions for each side.

The Fire lost fullbacks Matt Polster to Rangers and Brandon Vincent to retirement. The Galaxy didn't address standing concerns at fullback, either, after conceding 64 goals in 2018. Polenta and Marcelo may well make those around them better, but, a full-scale transformation on their debuts might be a bit much to ask. 


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