One match into his Major League Soccer career, Zlatan Ibrahimović is already making his mark. After years of rumors about him moving to the U.S., the Swedish striker transferred to the LA Galaxy from Manchester United just over a week ago, and he made his debut as a 71st-minute sub against LAFC Saturday in the inaugural Los Angeles derby between these clubs (a series aptly dubbed “El Trafico” by many). Oh, and Ibrahimović wasted zero time making an impact; he entered with his team down 3-2, and just six minutes after coming on, he blasted a long-range rocket to tie the match:
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 31, 2018
And that wasn’t all. In the first minute of stoppage time, he scored the winner with a pretty header:
Those are nice calls from Fox’s John Strong and Stu Holden, with Strong’s “Oh, come on! Come on!” disbelief over the first goal and Holden’s “LAFC have just been Zlataned. Welcome to Major League Soccer. Take a bow!” particularly standing out. Strong’s “Are you serious?!” after the second goal was great, too. And the two wisely let gave the crowd room to be heard after both goals as well, letting viewers hear the emotion from the stands at the Galaxy’s StubHub Center. It’s also pretty nice for MLS as a whole that Ibrahimović made his debut in a game televised nationally on an over-the-air network, and that he made such an incredible impact in it.
Some of the questions about how effective Ibrahimović would be in his transition to MLS came from his age (36) and his recent injury history, including a torn ACL. But he clearly still has some tremendous awareness, as shown in both of these goals; the first involved seeing how far LAFC keeper Marco Ureña was off his line, as that shot likely isn’t taken or doesn’t work if Ureña is further back, and the second involved smartly laying off the initial through ball to get back onside and be available for the cross. Both of these showed that Ibrahimović still has a great finishing touch, too. It’s one match, and there are still questions about how this will work out over the long run, but Ibrahimović and the Galaxy couldn’t have asked for a better start.