Ibrahimovic wonder goal not enough to spoil Arena's winning return

Comments()
Getty Images
The former USA boss enjoyed a winning return to coaching, helping New England hold off a Zlatan-led LA Galaxy on Sunday night

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's latest stroke of goal-scoring magic wasn't enough to deny Bruce Arena a winning return to coaching. 

Ibrahimovic scored a stunning bicycle kick goal in the closing minutes, but it wasn't enough to prevent New England's 2-1 victory at Dignity Health Sports Park, the Revolution's first match with Arena on the sidelines as head coach. 

Making his return to the stadium where he won three MLS Cup titles with the LA Galaxy, Arena made a victorious return after 20 months out of action. 

He last roamed the sidelines in a bitter defeat as U.S. national team head coach in the infamous World Cup qualifying loss to Trinidad and Tobago that eliminated the USMNT from the 2018 World Cup. 

It was a much more celebratory tone on Sunday night, as Arena helped the Revs extend their unbeaten run to four matches since the firings of head coach Brad Friedel and general manager Mike Burns. 

The win didn't come easy though, with the Galaxy making a late surge after Teal Bunbury's goal gave the Revs a 2-0 lead in the 65th minute. Ibrahimovic wowed the home crowd with a bicycle kick to pull the Galaxy to within a goal in the 84th minute, his 11th strike of the season. 

The Galaxy piled on the pressure in the final moments in search of an equalizer and nearly found one when Diego Palenta blasted a long-range shot off the crossbar in the final seconds of the match, but his chance didn't find the net, forcing the Galaxy to settle for their fifth loss in seven matches. 

The victory sends Arena's Revolution into the MLS Gold Cup break on a high, and now the former USMNT coach will have three weeks to continue putting his stamp on the fourth MLS team he has coached.  

The Revs haven't lost a match since the coaching change, with the biggest difference being in the play of the team's defense, which went from being the worst in MLS to allowing just three goals in its past four matches. 

For the Galaxy, Sunday's loss is a bitter defeat for a team that had posted consecutive shutout victories, including a 2-0 road win against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. Sunday's defeat leaves the Galaxy nine points behind MLS-leading Los Angeles FC in the Western Conference standings. 

As for Arena, he isn't done facing his former teams, with his next match in charge of New England being a June 11 U.S. Open Cup clash against the New York Red Bulls (a team Arena coached in 2006 and 2007). The Revs will return to MLS league play on June 26, with a home match against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union

Close