Halftime tweak, Ibrahimovic's return powers rare Galaxy win in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return proved fruitful, as his goal and assist paced the LA Galaxy to their first win in Kansas City since 2007.

Ibrahimovic made his return to the LA Galaxy side after serving a two-game suspension for an incident with NYCFC's Sean Johnson on May 11. The superstar delivered, giving the assist on newcomer Favio Alvarez’s debut goal in MLS, and then put away the match with a strike of his own in the 86th minute in the 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

“I was feeling heavy in the beginning,” Ibrahimovic said after the game of his return. “You could see I haven’t played for a week or so, and I was feeling it in the second half when I got the chance, and I should have scored but I didn’t. Then I made it up with my goal. The more time went the more comfortable I was feeling, even if I got tired.”

The Galaxy endured an interesting travel day on Tuesday, as their plane was rerouted to St. Louis as they were getting ready to land in Kansas City. The Kansas City International Airport was under a tornado warning, and the runway was closed until midnight local time as debris had landed and littered the runway from the storm that unleashed a devastating tornado in Linwood, Kansas, roughly 50 miles from the airport. The Galaxy elected to stay the night in St. Louis, and then landed in Kansas City about seven hours or so before kickoff.

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“We had a strange travel even if we don’t want to use that as an excuse,” said Ibrahimovic. “But we flew yesterday, we flew today, and tomorrow we’ll fly again. Three days in the airplane, it takes a lot of energy from the body, but we were preparing good. And we did the best from the situation. But the game was good.”

The Galaxy were on the back foot for most of the match, as Sporting KC had the majority of the possession and shots. In the first half, the difference was obvious. But the second half, they made an adjustment.

“In the second half, we changed the system again because we were wide open,” said Ibrahimovic. “It helped because we could close the spaces more because Kansas plays good football. They have a good system the way they play and you need to have patience against them whether you steal the ball or they make a mistake.”

That’s how they got their opener, a quick counter and the ball sprayed out wide right, bringing Alvarez along as he adjusts to life in MLS.

“Normally that situation it happens often in our game,” said Ibrahimovic. “A long cross to the second post, I try to head it down to somebody or [against] the keeper. This time I had it down and he anticipated the header, and I think he came before the defender and he scored the goal. You just have to do the run and anticipate the movement. So that it was he did and he scored his first goal, and slowly he comes into the team and he’s made it good so far. I think he’ll become even better.”


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