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A look at how the Galaxy could line up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic


Zlatan Ibrahimovic has come to conquer Los Angeles. What’s left to be determined is how exactly to fit a player and personality as large as Zlatan in the already-existing Galaxy.

Though, the Swedish star could debut as soon as Saturday’s clash with rivals LAFC, it remains to be seen just how fit Ibrahimovic. If he is ready to go this weekend, the debut will most assuredly be a colossal one.

For the time being, it’s safe to assume that Ibrahimovic isn’t 90 minutes fit, and that’s perfectly okay. If he does see the field against LAFC, it’ll be on exactly zero days training, as Ibrahimovic is expected to arrive on Friday. While it would certainly be nice to have him on the field for a number of reasons, the idea is to integrate him into the team long-term.

The Galaxy already have a forward in Ola Kamara, and he’s a pretty good one at that. The Norwegian scored 34 goals in his first two MLS seasons and is fresh off a hat-trick with his country. The idea will be to pair the two in some fashion with Ibrahimovic providing the hold up play and Kamara providing the legs in a two-pronged attack.

So let’s start there: with the two forwards. Now you have to assemble the pieces behind them. Romain Alessandrini will most certainly see the field in a wide role while Jonathan dos Santos and Perry Kitchen are safe bets as well.

That leaves one spot on the field for Sebastian Lletget or Giovani dos Santos and, given the Mexican star’s up-and-down play, Lletget may be the safer bet. As things stand, dos Santos is dealing with injury issues but, when this Galaxy team is fully healthy, it remains to be seen if starting the Mexican forward is the best idea. Ideally, he’d slot in just behind Ibrahimovic and Kamara to create one of the league’s most dangerous attacks, but the defensive issues created by such a move could be too much to overcome.

You can assemble a team without Giovani dos Santos in a 4-4-2 or even in a diamond with Alessandrini coming inside in a playmaker role. It could work, but it puts a lot of pressure on Jonathan dos Santos to step up as a defender without that extra body in the midfield. There’s also the idea of playing Kamara wide on the left in a 4-3-3. It’s a position that he could theoretically do well in, even if his numbers would take a massive hit.

A three-at-the-back system is also possible, but it would require some shifting. The Galaxy gave the system a look against the Vancouver Whitecaps to general success, and it could offer a look towards a potential answer. The three-at-the-back system is a hot one in recent years, and it helps alleviate the numbers issue that would plague the Galaxy in a 4-4-2.

There are questions though. Where do you put Alessandrini, whose skills would almost certainly be wasted as a wingback? Do you use captain Ashley Cole as a left wingback or do you place Lletget in the role? Would someone like Ema Boateng be a better fit in the role?

Over the next few weeks and months, Sigi Schmid will most certainly tinker and adjust to better fit his new star. This Galaxy team, for better or worse, will now be built around Ibrahimovic and a skillset that we’ve never seen in MLS. It’s a team that has the potential to be as dominant as the Swedish striker himself, but, in order for that to work, the Galaxy will need to make some tough decisions and big-time adjustments along the way.


  1. The LA Galaxy may have, on paper, started a three man back line, but they moved Sklejvik, normally a CB, to the left back position, and Dave Romney, normally a CB, to the RB position, essentially giving them a 5 man back line. That weekend they had several defenders but missing most attackers, so Sigi built a strong back line and put in some speedy players like Lleget and Boateng for the threat of fast counters, and it worked and the threat on a fast counter, made Robinson keep his defenders from being thrown into the attack when the LAG “parked the bus”

    I do not think Sigi would go to 3 man backline, at least this early i the season, he may later though, as the team gels. I expect Kamara to play up top, or slightly withdrawn for the LAFC game, but for most of the game its their regular formation, as Zlatan will most likely get less than 15 minutes of game time

  2. Is Kitchen better than last year’s starter, Joao Pedro? Boateng is a real speed guy who can be very dangerous and Lletget may be their best CAM. They really have more offensive players than they need, but could use a couple of defenders.


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