KANSAS CITY, Kan. – When you give Zlatan Ibrahimovic enough space to thread a needle through a string — or a ball between a hapless goalkeeper’s legs — you’re going to be hard pressed to walk off the field 90 minutes later with a clean sheet. And that’s exactly what Sporting KC experienced on Wednesday night, as Ibrahimovic scored one and assisted one as LA Galaxy defeated Sporting KC 2-0 at Children’s Mercy Park.
Zlatan Powers Galaxy to Win Over Sporting KC
Yet it was Sporting KC who threatened early, creating a multitude of chances including a shot from Kelyn Rowe being blocked on the goal line from Daniel Steres. It took until the 56th minute for LA Galaxy to break the deadlock, as Favio Alvarez headed past Tim Melia after a cushioned header from Ibrahimovic put the ball on a platter for Alvarez.
Ibrahimovic then doubled the lead with just four minutes remaining in regulation, as the Swede was offered far too much space to chest down the ball and fire between Melia’s legs in front of The Cauldron.
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“Credit to him, he was involved in both goals, obviously the second one he scored,” Peter Vermes said. “In both goals, we could have done so much better on both of them.”
The 2-0 scoreline doesn’t wholly reflect the run of play, as Sporting KC had plenty of chances throughout the game.
“I don’t think it’s a 2-0 game. I think we missed too many really, really good chances in the game,” Vermes said. “To me, the fact that we didn’t finish our chances put us at 2-0. We should have actually been winning at some point 2-0 before they got to that point, and I think it would have changed the game.”
Along with Rowe’s blocked shot, Yohan Croizet had several heavy touches to squander opportunities, while Felipe Gutierrez placed a casual header from a corner off the top of the bar and out of play.
The Injured Return
Peter Vermes was finally able to produce a full bench on Wednesday night, but that also meant several players making their first appearances back from injury.
Andreu Fontas, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Daniel Salloi and Jimmy Medranda (who played just a handful of minutes on Sunday against Seattle) put in extended minutes against LA Galaxy, cutting Sporting’s injury list down to just six.
“It feels good to be healthy again and I can play… We have to manage it, other teams have to do it too,” Salloi said.
Vermes’ men must now prepare for a four-game road trip, which could potentially grow to five dependent on Sporting’s draw in the U.S. Open Cup. Starting with Saturday’s game against the Houston Dynamo, Sporting will then travel far up north to take on Toronto, before slowly working its way back south against Columbus and then San Jose.
“It’s going to be a tough month because we don’t play at home, but I think everybody is kind of ready in their head and we’ll try to get the best in June,” Salloi said.
Sporting’s first game back at Children’s Mercy Park will come against Los Angeles FC on July 3, meaning the team doesn’t play a single MLS game at home in June.