At this point, it’s not a matter of trying to figure out how to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It’s just about slowing him down.
The Los Angeles Galaxy forward, who is tied for second in MLS with 22 goals, has scored twice in each of his past three league matches, including a 2-2 draw against the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 17.
The Sounders (12-8-7, 43 points) will get another chance against the 37-year-old Swedish superstar when they play host to the Galaxy (13-11-3, 42 points) on Sunday afternoon.
“Everything runs through Zlatan, everybody knows that,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “I think it’s more a matter of cutting out the service to him rather than defending him well, because, yes, you can defend him well eight out of 10 times and the other two times he’ll punish you.”
With recently acquired winger Cristian Pavon at his side, Ibrahimovic scored twice more last weekend in a 3-3 draw against host Los Angeles FC, the Western Conference leaders. Pavon scored his first MLS goal and added an assist.
“With Zlatan you all know we always try to find each other, and do a give and go play, or try to do whatever is best for the team,” Pavon said after the match with LAFC. “With him I am always trying to find the space and find a give and go, and today I was able to assist on his goal and I’m happy and hopeful we can continue to score more goals.”
Like the Galaxy, the Sounders are also coming off a rivalry game. They won 2-1 last weekend at Portland to clinch the Cascadia Cup that goes to the winner of the three-team competition that also includes the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“Games like that give you confidence,” Frei said. “We need to be able to translate that into the next game against L.A. Huge game, obviously, a six-point game right there.”
The Sounders and Galaxy entered the weekend in third and fourth place, respectively, in the West and in a tight battle for playoff positioning. The second- and seventh-place teams are separated by just three points.
The Galaxy has a 10-7-10 edge in the all-time series, with the teams 4-4-5 in Seattle.
--Field Level Media
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.