VANCOUVER, B.C — Zlatan Ibrahimović made his first appearance at B.C. Place and did not disappoint, setting up the match-winning goal for the LA Galaxy (4-1-0, 12 points) to cap a 2-0 result against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (0-4-1, 1 point).
“It was a good game,” Ibrahimović said postmatch. “Fantastic atmosphere. Thanks to all the people that came out. Hopefully they enjoyed the game. It was a good game for us, especially the second half. We keep winning. We keep bringing the confidence with us. It was a good day today.”
The Vancouver crowd cheered Ibrahimović during prematch player introductions. The Swede gave the announced crowd of 22,120 exactly what they came to see, delivering an unmarked flying kick to the top corner of the net in the 73rd minute.
“It’s good, it’s very good,” Ibrahimovic said of the service from his teammates. “It’s fantastic. Without the service from them, I’m not able to do what I am doing. We just have to keep going, connect more and I just have to be sharp in front of the goal.
“Today, I should have had three goals. One was stolen, one I did, the other one was sloppy, too sloppy.”
The Galaxy’s first goal came when the visitors finally broke through the Whitecaps’ defense in the 63′ minute. Ibrahimović passed to teammate Daniel Steres, who was unmarked at the far back post and easily converted his second goal of the season.
The Galaxy had trouble getting any offense going in the opening 45 minutes. Vancouver maintained possession and swarmed Ibrahimović whenever LA did venture toward the Whitecaps’ goal. Ibrahimović was kept in check, but that didn’t last for long.
Referee Baldomero Toledo awarded a penalty 57 seconds into the match after Vancouver’s Lass Bangoura was tackled inside the Galaxy box by Jørgen Skjelvik.
With a chance to give his team an early lead, Whitecaps FC left back Ali Adnan stepped up to the spot. The 25-year-old attempted a cheeky Panenka that went terribly wrong. Adnan did not strike the ball hard enough, and it fluttered into the arms of LA Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham.
“Of course when we have a penalty, a big opportunity at minute 1, and we don’t score, it puts ourselves down, because we’re thinking, ‘Can we get a break?'” Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos said.
“It happens,” Bingham said when asked about the botched penalty. “If I fly to the right or the left, he scores, nobody says anything about it. It’s soccer, sometimes mistakes happen, and obviously he’ll want to do it over. I’m happy that I was able to save it, and help our team out today.”
Joaquín Ardaiz made his MLS debut, leading the line for Vancouver. Ardaiz had an opportunity to put Whitecaps FC ahead in the 18th minute after LA failed to clear the ball. The Uruguayan striker forced Bingham into a point-blank save.
By the end of the night, Bingham made four saves to earn his first clean sheet of the season.
The Galaxy first looked to open the scoring after halftime, when Whitecaps FC keeper Maxime Crepeau spilled the ball. Ibrahimović had all sorts of time and space, but he sent his shot wide of the target. Whitecaps FC fans caught another break moments later when Ibrahimović was called offside after he spun and kicked the ball past Crepeau.
“I had a good chance, where the goalkeeper gave it to me and surprised me,” Ibrahimović said. “I missed, which I shouldn’t have. Then I scored another one, and was offside. Then we have this thing with VAR (Video Assistant Review). I mean, if the referee does a mistake, it can happen, we all do mistakes. If you do a mistake by seeing a replay video, it cannot happen. Then it has no sense to have VAR. Then just close down the VAR and continue like we did before. This mistake cannot happen.
“Then I scored with Steres, and then I scored a second one.”
Vancouver’s defense was out to lunch on both Galaxy goals. It’s now back to the tactics board before heading to Chicago on Friday for another chance at finally getting a win this season.
The Galaxy next host the Philadelphia Union next Saturday.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Starting XI:Maxime Crepeau; Ali Adnan, Doneil Henry, Erik Godoy, Jake Nerwinski; Russell Teibert, 66 (Yordy Reyna), Jon Erice(C), 73 (Fredy Montero), Felipe; Hwang, Joaquin Ardaiz, Lass Bangoura, 59 (Lucas Venuto). 4-3-3
LA Galaxy Starting XI:David Bingham; Jorgen Skjelvik, 88 (Diedie Traore); Dave Romney, Daniel Steres, Rolf Feltscher; Joe Corona, Jonathan Dos Santos; Uriel Antuna, 84 (Emmanuel Boateng), Sebastian Lletget, Romain Alessandrini, 82 (Chris Pontius), Zlatan Ibrahimović. 4-2-3-1