CARSON, Calif. — Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored two more goals and the LA Galaxy gave an electric first-half performance en route to their fourth successive victory, their first such streak in nearly two years. The Swedish superstar was in no mood to celebrate afterward.
Ibrahimovic netted his fifth and sixth goals of the season, in just four appearances, to race ahead of Josef Martinez's pace when the Atlanta United striker scored a record 31 last year, but he wasn't particularly interested in that when the 2-0 triumph over the visiting Philadelphia Union was done.
He was irked that LA (5-1-0) wasn't the same side after halftime, and although they defended well and conceded little to let the Union back into the game, that wasn't nearly enough.
“First half I thought was amazing,” he said afterward in the Galaxy locker room. “We had rhythm, we were aggressive, we had possession, we were direct. We said at halftime, we go out to kill, to score 3-0 or 4-0, and keep going.
“After two seconds we almost conceded one goal, so either everybody wasn't on the same side or we relaxed, and that cannot happen, because when you go out and relax, you get punished. And when you get punished, it's difficult to come back. Lucky we were 2-up this time, but this cannot happen. We cannot relax like this, and we have to keep going.”
The Galaxy were superb the first 45 minutes, moving the ball crisply among the front eight, switching play from side to side, and finding paths through a tight and organized Union defense to create opportunities.
Two of them fell Ibrahimovic's way, and he did not disappoint. His 27th-minute header, from a Jorgen Skjelvik cross after a nifty little run by Romain Alessandrini, gave LA the advantage, and he finished from the spot nine minutes later after Union left back Kai Wagner clipped him as he and center back Auston Trusty battle in the air for a ball from Skjelvik.
“Those were the only two chances I had, I think,” he said. “In the second half, I don't think we were close to creating a chance to score. Two different games: First half and second half.”
LA struggled to create after halftime and had to repeatedly repel Union forays into the final third. They were fortunate to keep a clean sheet: Alejandro Bedoya nearly halved the deficit in the 54th minute, hitting the right post with the last of three chances in a matter of seconds. Philly (3-3-1) created little of consequence after that, but they had the better of play.
Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto wasn't particularly pleased either. Asked about the dynamism with which LA played the first 45 minutes, the connections and comfort LA displayed — akin to the best soccer the club played during the Bruce Arena era — he instead addressed what occurred afterward.
“I don't really like the second half for us,” he said during his postgame news conference. “We finished the game in the first half, we played really good. We manage the ball, we manage the game, we have possibility of scoring, and we did. In the second half, I talk with the players [that] we need to keep manage the ball, and I think the game was even or sometimes [Philadelphia] play better than us. ... I don't really like the second half.”
Ibrahimovic looked unhappy at the game's finish, was barking at teammates, and made it it that he wasn't thrilled when he addressed media afterward. He was uncharacteristically terse.
“When you want to send a message, you send a clear message,” he said. “And first half, we send a message. I mean, I think Philadelphia, I don't think they knew what to do, how to stop us, because we were all over the place, pressing, winning balls, creative. Second half, I think we were worried what they should do. ...
“The important thing is the intention and the mentality: What do you want? You've got to go in, and you've got to execute, because we know from last year, winning 2-0 [during a match] is not enough.”