Tim Parker and Aaron Long sat on a bench under a blazing sun at the New York Red Bulls training facility on Thursday, shedding their shirts in order to catch some rays and bask in the first truly hot day of the season.
The Red Bulls
Ibrahimovic scored the winner that day, but it was Onuoha's comments after the match, where he branded Ibrahimovic a thug and accused Ibrahimovic of threatening to injure him, that drew widespread attention.
The Red Bulls didn't sound too worried about the potential for trash talk from Ibrahimovic, seeing it potentially being just a byproduct of facing one of the league's fiercest competitors.
"If you keep naming names, and throw Ibrahimovic in there, that this is what makes these guys great," Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. "That
"I know that everyone’s different. These guys have personality and bite. Michael Jordan would trash talk, right, and he’s the greatest ever.”
Though Armas wasn't known for saying much on the field during his playing days, he didn't sound at all bothered by the notion of Ibrahimovic or any player choosing to talk trash to an opponent.
"Look, he’s a competitor. He’s a winner. We know this. Part of it is, yeah, he’s passionate," Armas said. "When things are going, there’s contact, there’s looking for an edge. In so many ways it makes him different. It makes him good."
The current Red Bulls aren't strangers to Ibrahimovic, having faced him last year in a 3-2 Red Bulls road win in California. A lot has changed from 2018 though. Last season the Red Bulls were Supporters' Shield winners while the Galaxy wound up missing the playoffs despite Ibrahimovic's 22 goals. So far in 2019, the Red Bulls are a disappointing 2-4-2 while the Galaxy
Ibrahimovic has been the driving force behind that surge, with his eight goals second only to Carlos Vela's 11 among MLS leaders, and his hold-up play is making the Galaxy's other attacking players even more dangerous.
"He didn’t score last year (against the Red Bulls), but he set up both goals. You even look at the RSL game (last week) he had a hand in both goals," Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles said. "That’s really what they spent all the money for. He really makes a difference for his team. Even when the
"In order to defend Ibra it’s not going to be a one-v-one," Robles added. "It’s going to take the entire group knowing where he’s at, but then because of the challenge he creates you can’t just focus on him because they have other good pieces that have been playing well."
There may not be a team
"He’s got a presence to him as well. His presence can intimidate people," Parker said of Ibrahimovic. "And then on top of it if he’s talking to you I’m sure it can get to you in a way, but we’re not going to let that happen."