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LA Galaxy’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia Union: Three things we learned

The LA Galaxy defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-0 Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. Here are three things we learned:

Zlatan is going to Zlatan

In just four games this season, LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored six goals, or 55 percent of the team’s total goals. Heading into the season, Ibrahimovic proclaimed that he “would break every MLS record,” but his focus is on doing what is best for his team. 

“I come on the field to score,” Ibrahimovic said. “My job is to score. The best way to help the team is to score. I’m in front, I try to create chances for my teammates. When I get the chance I try to score.”

The fast style of play introduced by head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto compliments Ibrahimovic’s scoring style: the midfield moves the ball quickly around opposing players, and Ibrahimovic knocks it in. If the team can continue to stay healthy and build cohesion, they will be a force to be reckoned with. 

The return of Juninho

Juninho subbed on in the closing minutes of a match already well in hand, but his return was significant to the fans in attendance, as well as for Juninho himself. He re-joined the Galaxy in Dec 2018, but this was his first appearance of the year after dealing with a recurring knee injury. Galaxy fans remember Juninho from his six-season stint with the club from 2010 to 2015, helping the Galaxy win the 2011, 2014 and 2015 MLS Cups. 

As Juninho walked toward the sideline to enter the match, the crowd began cheering: a fan-favorite was returning to the field for the first time. He only registered one official minute of play, but the home fans were chanting his name for most of his time on the field. In the closing moments of the match, Juninho was carrying the ball forward, just outside the 18-yard box, but referee Dave Gantar blew the final whistle, cueing boos from the crowd hoping to see Juninho have an opportunity on goal.

“I put him on the field because the last five minutes I wanted to take the ball, and save the ball,” Schelotto said when asked about Juninho’s role in the match. “We couldn’t dominate the game in the second half, so I just wanted to save the ball, keep the ball, the minutes going, and finish the game.”

Defensive chemistry

The LA Galaxy have notched two shutouts in a row, which is a major feat for a team that struggled defensively for the majority of the last two seasons. Team cohesion, and team defending, has been a major step in the right direction for the Galaxy. 

“I think the whole team is getting better than before,” Schelotto said. “Everyone is getting confident to play in their positions. We can see how the defense is getting better game by game. I am happy with that. I think the individual level is getting better to, like Rolf [Feltscher], [Daniel] Steres, Jorgen [Skjelvik]. I am very happy.”

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