Apr 14, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) takes the field before the game against the Chicago Fire at Bridgeview Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — A packed house at Toyota Park came to see Zlatan Ibrahimović and the LA Galaxy take on Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Chicago Fire. Zlatan delivered.
The Swede scored on a header just before halftime to give the Galaxy a 1-0 win. It is his third goal in three games and second game-winning goal.
It was also Ibrahimović’s first start with the Galaxy. He was subbed out in the 80th minute, but wanted more from himself.
“I feel I should have scored another two goals because I missed great chances, which I normally shouldn’t have missed,” Ibrahimović said. “Today I missed, but we won the game.”
He did have two clear chances that many in the sold out crowd probably expected him to score. In the first half, an Elliott Collier back pass sent Ibrahimović on a clear breakaway. He approached goalkeeper Richard Sanchez from an angle and wasn’t able to generate a strong shot. In the second half, Ibrahimović held off a defender to create an open shot in front, but again was denied by Sanchez.
“I don’t want to have an excuse because if I do something wrong it’s my fault,” Ibrahimović said. “I could easily blame the wind or whatever, but I won’t. I should have scored.”
The anticipated matchup between Ibrahimović and Schweinsteiger, former Manchester United teammates, materialized on a few occasions. Schweinsteiger played as a sweeper so there were a few one-on-one confrontations.
When Ibrahimović was asked about facing off against Schweinsteiger he had a big smile on his face.
“It was good,” Ibrahimović said of seeing Schweinsteiger, who visited the Galaxy locker room after the match. “He’s lucky it was windy today. He has no excuse.
“He’s an intelligent player and as a person.”
From the Fire’s side, it’s a missed opportunity to get a result in front of a record crowd that braved wet, cold and windy conditions. The announced attendance of 21,915 is the most for a regular season game in Toyota Park history.
[RELATED: Three things we learned from the match]
The Fire have four points from five matches and four of those matches took place at home. Things also aren’t getting any easier for a team that has shown weaknesses in various aspects. The next two matches are at on the road against good teams in the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC.
Fire coach Veljko Paunović said “a small mistake decided the game,” but the continued struggles to start the season point to more than one play that led to a goal.
“The product on the field is below average right now and that’s what we are,” Fire midfielder Dax McCarty said. “We’re below average and the results speak to that. All I can do is just ask our loyal fans to stick with us. We have to turn it around and I promise them we will do everything we can to turn it around. It’s not easy times now. We’re just lacking a little bit of quality all over the field. That’s the brutal honest truth.”