CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy are starting to get healthy, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto could have the full contingent of players from which to select his lineup for Sunday’s home clash with the Portland Timbers.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini returned to full training this week and could feature Sunday (9 pm ET | ESPN2, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada), but there’s no certainty that either will be ready to play. Both are hopeful, but Schelotto won't make any decisions until after Saturday's training session.
“We got them on the field,” the Galaxy coach said following Friday morning's session at Dignity Health Sports Park. “We are waiting on tomorrow to take a decision about the future, if they're going to play on Sunday, but we are happy with that, because they are very important for us.”
Alessandrini suffered a hamstring injury early in the Galaxy's opening-day win over Chicago four weeks ago, and Ibrahimovic complained after the game that his left Achilles' tendon bothered him for most of the 90 minutes. Neither had trained since, but Alessandrini was on the field last Saturday and training fully Monday, and Ibrahimovic returned to the field Tuesday.
“I feel good,” Ibrahimovic said Friday. “I've been training two, three days with the team, and day by day we make an evaluation how is things and how I feel. But it's getting better. I'm feeling more and more confident, and we'll see. Tomorrow is another day, and we will see where we're at.”
Alessandrini said he wants to play against Portland, but he doesn't know if he will.
“I worked hard to come back, and the last two weeks were good for me, and, hopefully, this weekend I'm going to play,” the French winger said. “I don't know [if I'm fit enough], I'm not sure, but we'll see what the coach, see what he decides. But I feel good, so we'll see.”
Sunday will be the first anniversary of Ibrahimovic's MLS debut, when he came off the bench to score two goals — including a 40-yard half-volley that was selected as last season's AT&T MLS Goal of the Year — to win the first meeting with new archrival LAFC.
He said he wasn't sure how long he could go if he is able to play.
“This is a question you have to wait and see during the game ...,” said Ibrahimovic, whose 80th-minute goal gave the Galaxy a 2-1 victory in the opener. “It's about how long you can keep it [feeling right], and that I don't know. That you have to find out while you're playing. This is nothing I can say. I can hold out 20, 30, 40 or 90 minutes, so we'll have to see.”
Alessandrini also doesn't know how many minutes he can play.
“I'm going to give everything I have right now, even if I play 20 minutes,” he said. “So it should be good for me to come back.”
Schelotto says they'll be in the XI if they can play.
“I think we talk with the doctor today, tomorrow I want to talk to them,” Schelotto said. “If they feel good, I want to respect my decision in the first game, when I put them in the field and they get injured. I don't want to put them on the bench after the injury. They are OK, they will play, and they will start.”
Juninho, coming off a knee injury, also might be available. The Brazilian midfielder, who returned to the club during the offseason, has been in training for three weeks, more or less going through his preseason.
“I think we need to take care about him because his name is very important for the fans,” Schelotto said. “He make three championships here, but he's coming from the injury, a big injury. ... We need to take the decision about him, but we need to do the best thing for the team.”