April 5, 2019 / 2:44 AM / 17 days ago

Ibrahimovic back as hot Galaxy face struggling Whitecaps

The rebuilding Vancouver Whitecaps are still searching for their first win of the season, but it won’t come easy at home on Friday night against the L.A. Galaxy and, most likely, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Mar 31, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) jumps to recover the ball during the first half against the Portland Timbers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Whitecaps (0-3-1, 1 point) finally got their first point of the season last weekend when they kept Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle off the board in a 0-0 draw at BC Place, preventing the Sounders from winning four straight to start the season for the first time in franchise history.

While Vancouver was still on the back foot for stretches of that match, first-year coach Marco Dos Santos viewed the result as a “positive moment” for a squad that turned over more than half of its roster in the offseason.

But it’s also an improvement he believed would come despite a slow start.

“I feel this is the phase now that everybody is kind of on the same page, not only mentally but physically,” Dos Santos said. “A lot of times I was asked about the mood, or if the players had motivation, questioning if the players were doubting themselves for the first three games. I never felt that. They always worked hard. They always had the right mentality.”

Meanwhile, the Galaxy (3-1-0, 9 points) have had nearly as hot a start as the Sounders despite missing superstar attacker Ibrahimovic for two games with an Achilles tendon injury.

Ibrahimovic still has three goals, including two from the penalty spot in his return last weekend, a 2-1 victory over Portland last Sunday.

And after avoiding artificial surfaces throughout his first MLS season, in part because of concerns over his surgically repaired ACL, he suggested he’s prepared to play on the surface this season, beginning at BC Place.

“That was an issue for me knee,” Ibrahimovic said of the decision last year. “I didn’t even know if I was ready for the turf. Or how the consequence would be. I thought it was a little bit risky. But not because I didn’t want to. Because of the injury. But now I feel good, I feel confident. It’s gone a long time since the injury.”

—Field Level Media

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