CARSON, Calif. -- Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a no-show in the LA Galaxy's final home training session before heading to Seattle ahead of Sunday's Western Conference showdown with the Seattle Sounders (6:30 pm ET | FS1 in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada), but he's going to play, his coach says, and good thing, too.
The Galaxy (13-11-3), who sit fourth in a tight Western Conference race for Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoff berths and positioning, have looked like a different team since Cristian Pavon's debut three weeks ago, and their formula for success requires all of their primary attacking parts, most of all the big Swedish striker, who has posted three successive two-goal games and has scored 22 of his team's 38 league goals this season.
“Just he feel a little pain in [his] Achilles,” head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said when asked about Ibrahimovic's absence from Friday morning's session at Dignity Health Sports Park. “Just he need to recover today to be ready for the game on Sunday. ...
“He will [play]. We were talking today about how he's feeling, [and] he told me he need to rest today to be OK tomorrow and be ready for Sunday.”
It's all the more important with Sunday's clash against the third-place Sounders (12-8-7) at CenturyLink Field. Ibrahimovic, unlike several of his European predecessors with the Galaxy, has no problem playing on turf.
“Last year [he played on artificial turf after he] recovered from the injury in the knee ...,” Schelotto noted. “And he's played [this year on artificial turf] in Vancouver, he played in Portland, so he's OK for Sunday.”
All the better for the offense, which has been stronger -- and defined the team's best performances -- when the Galaxy come out and attack aggressively, as they did while taking a quick 3-1 lead in last weekend's draw against crosstown rival LAFC.
The Galaxy followed their win in July over LAFC with a subpar showing in a 4-0 loss at Portland, and they don't want a similar response after another tremendously intense outing with their archrival. The idea is to come out as they did last weekend, but sustain it for more than a half.
“We should have won [at LAFC], but I think we should definitely use that as momentum and keep it going [in Seattle],” midfielder Sebastian Lletget said. “There's a good feeling around the place right now. We definitely need to learn from some things maybe we could have done better against LAFC, but definitely more positives than negatives. ...
“Maybe that was out fault in the second half, and we didn't come out and attack them and kind of like punch them in the face a little bit, like we did in the first half, so we definitely want to do that for more parts of the game.”
The Galaxy have seven games remaining and sit just one point out of second place and two points above seventh. It's looking like a seven-team fight for the last six Western postseason berths -- with Sporting Kansas City needing a little run to join in -- and the Galaxy appear to be in their best form heading into the stretch.
“We need to keep [coming out aggressively],” Schelotto said. “We need to keep [doing that] during these seven games.”
Jonathan dos Santos says all of the games are “finals.”
“We are confident,” he said in Spanish. “I think the team has demonstrated in the last four matches that it's a team that can beat anyone. It's true that there's situations in games that haven't gone in our favor, but we know we have [seven] finals left to play.”
Schelotto noted the Galaxy's attack will soon gain another piece, with French winger Romain Alessandrini set to return to training next week after undergoing knee surgery in April.
“When he will come, the team will feel better, because he's DP, big player, very important player for us,” Schelotto said. “He [should] start on the pitch, I think, next Monday, next Tuesday, and I don't know how many days he will need for to get fit. Maybe two weeks? I don't know.
“We need to check day by day, but I think at least he will need two weeks more, but he will be important maybe in the last game.”