Zlatan Ibrahimovic went into the 2019 MLS season determined to break records and looked like he might live up to that lofty standard when he scored in his first match of the season. Unfortunately for Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy, he hasn't played since.
The star striker is set to miss his second straight match as he recovers from an Achilles injury suffered during the Galaxy's season-opening 2-1 win against the Chicago Fire.
Ibrahimovic didn't travel to the Galaxy's 2-0 road loss to FC Dallas and the club’s head coach, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, has revealed that he won't play on Saturday when the Galaxy host unbeaten Minnesota United.
"Zlatan, he will take one week more out but I think he will start training with us next week," Schelotto said on Thursday. "I'm trying to get him fit for the game against Portland."
Ibrahimovic played 90 minutes and scored the winning goal in the 80th minute against the Fire on March 2, but came away from that match with pain in his Achllles, pain he told reporters he began feeling just 10 minutes into the match.
Though Schelotto sounded optimistic about Ibrahimovic being able to return next week, the injury is a major cause for concern for a Galaxy side woefully thin at forward behind the Swedish star, especially after selling striker Ola Kamara to Chinese club Shenzhen before the start of the season.
Chris Pontius, a more natural winger, started at the striker position for the Galaxy against FC Dallas, but failed to muster a shot in the loss. Ethan Zubak, a 20-year-old forward signed from the Galaxy's USL affiliate Los Dos, came off the bench against FCD, but isn't considered a viable starting option at the moment.
The Galaxy could turn to Mexican Uriel Antuna to play striker, though he is more naturally-suited to play as a winger.
Ibrahimovic isn't the only starter set to miss time for the Galaxy. French winger Romain Alessandrini is also set to miss his second straight match as he battles a hamstring injury.
The Galaxy will be taking on a revamped Minnesota United side that has won its first two matches of the season. The Loons bolstered their defense with the addition of former MLS defender of the year Ike Opara, who would have had the assignment of defending Ibrahimovic if he had been able to play.
Instead, the Galaxy will need to make due without their biggest star one more time, and also face the realization that they need to bring in another striker to provide some much-needed depth.