Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of, if not the most entertaining player to ever grace MLS, but there was no grace in his exit if Wednesday’s loss to LAFC was his final bow.
Sure he was good on the field — of course he was — with a goal and an assist and another called back in the LA Galaxy’s 5-3 loss to LAFC which underscored the gulf between the rivals.
[ MORE: Match recap ]
But a direct final whistle exit followed by a crotch grab to a trash-talking fan when he left the field and a less than classy interview tarnished what should’ve been an all-timer of an MLS Cup Playoff game between two new and sincere rivals.
One of the things that makes Zlatan a treat, aside from the freakish, creative, and powerful talent, is his audacious quotes and laughably high ego. Few get away with it, but Ibrahimovic generally gets a shrug or a laugh.
But when asked whether he’ll be returning to the team for his 39th year on this earth, the Swedish star’s impishness was too dismissive and disrespectful even for his standards (and even if there was truth in some parts of what he said).
“This could be my last game. Let’s see what happens. Is that more important than who is winning the MLS [Cup]? Yes, yes it is,” later adding, “Imagine if I don’t play in the MLS. Who will you talk about then?”
“When you play, you want to get credit back for when you’re playing. … I did my best. I think everybody did their best. What happens next year, I don’t know. If I stay, I think for MLS it’s good because the whole world will watch it. If I don’t stay, nobody will remember what MLS is.”
There were other slights. He played down the raucous LAFC atmosphere by comparing it to “training for me” and calling the stadium “too small.” He asked if MLS had the money to resign him, and claimed he made both LAFC and Carlos Vela famous?
Few would’ve wanted or expected gracious loser Zlatan, but it’s one thing to John Lennon yourself as the most important thing in the league and another thing to trash it altogether.
It’s the sort of thing that makes you hope the 31-goal scorer doesn’t return — he’s been linked with Napoli — even though of course you’d prefer him return. The conversation Friday could’ve been about how the Galaxy wasted him with an inferior supporting cast to its standards, but instead there’s just a sour taste in our mouths.
He won’t care, and probably won’t spend another thought on it, but it’s distressing because Ibrahimovic was (is?) very good for MLS and reports of his positive off-field contributions to the Galaxy club were not alien at all. If this is his exit and plays a role in how he’s remembered, that’s too bad.