Ibrahimovic scored a goal and delivered an assist, but a pair of second-half strikes by the Red Bulls, including a Derrick Etienne winner awarded after a VAR review overturned an offside call, helped the New York club earn a 3-2 victory against a Galaxy side that had been the hottest team in the league before Saturday.
The loss halted a six-match unbeaten run for the Galaxy, who hadn't lost all season with Ibrahimovic in the lineup. That run looked like it would continue when Ibrahinovic set up a Uriel Antuna goal before scoring his ninth of the season off a Chris Pontius assist just before halftime.
The Red Bulls responded well in the second half, putting pressure on the Galaxy defense despite playing without injured forward Bradley Wright-Phillips and suspended playmaker Kaku. Instead, it was Daniel Royer, Marc Rzatkowski and Etienne providing the goals, helping the Red Bulls become the first team this season to score three or more goals against the Galaxy.
The last of those goals came courtesy of an Etienne finish that was originally ruled offside before referee Nima Saghafi reviewed the replay and determined the goal was legitimate.
The Galaxy had their opportunities to equalize, and saw a pair of shots hit the woodwork, as well as a late dangerous free kick by Ibrahimovic blocked by the wall.
"We missed a lot of chances. If we would’ve scored, we would’ve won. But they didn’t make it difficult for us," said Ibrahimovic, who didn't particularly care about the fact that he had put together another strong performance. "We lost the game. It doesn’t matter what I did."
It took Ibrahimovic some time to get going on Saturday. He didn't register a shot in the first 30 minutes, with Aaron Long doing his best to try and stay close to the Swedish star. Ibrahimovic connected on a pair of elbows to Long's head on a pair of aerial duels, but the defender managed to shake them both off and continue.
Ibrahimovic eventually made his mark in the 39th minute when he set up Antuna with an excellent assist to tie the match at 1-1, and then scored his ninth goal of the season just four minutes later with a diving header to give the Galaxy the lead and momentum heading into halftime.
Zlatan gives the LA Galaxy a 2-1 lead! pic.twitter.com/im7VdHj7LF— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 4, 2019
The Red Bulls could have folded, but instead responded with a strong second half, putting pressure on the Galaxy, with Rzatkowski leading the charge with a 59th-minute equalizer. Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas did well with his substitutions as well, inserting rookie Omir Fernandez and Etienne, and both combined in the game-winning goal sequence.
Etienne scored just four minutes after entering the match, finishing a Royer pass, though it appeared the ball hit his teammate, who was laying on the ground in an offside position. The VAR review of the play determined otherwise though, giving the Red Bulls a lead they managed to hold on to.
The victory, New York's second in a row, has the Red Bulls looking more like the team that won the Supporters' Shield in 2018 and, with Kaku set to return from suspension, they could be ready to start making a push toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
As for the Galaxy, they will look to regroup and get ready for a Wednesday visit to the Columbus Crew, where Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto will face the team he led to an MLS Cup title as a player in 2008. There isn't likely to be too much dwelling on Saturday's loss for the Galaxy, a team that left Red Bull Arena believing they played well enough to win.
"We played a very good game," Ibrahimovic said. "In the second, we lost some positioning when considering the goals and we hit the post. We had a lot of chances we should have scored on. Sometimes this happens and you have to learn from it and move onto the next game. And to keep working and trying and then you get credit back for it."