CHESTER, Pa. — Zlatan Ibrahimovic is always going to get the recognition for the Los Angeles Galaxy. The former European star has been taking his Major League Soccer move in stride since joining Manchester United, but it was a tactical change on Saturday that propelled Sigi Schmid’s side to a comeback win.
Romain Alessandrini came off the bench at halftime and made an immediate impact for LA, registering two assists in their 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union. Not only did the Frenchman get on the stat sheet, but he flipped the match in his side’s favor with his pace and ability to attack the Union’s wingbacks.
“I was very pleased with Romain tonight, his attitude off the bench and his ability to change the match for us,” Schmid said. “He isn’t a bench player for us on this team, but we had to make some adjustments for this match so he started on there tonight. He was huge offensively with the assists but also tracked back and helped us defensively when we got pressured.”
Despite a first-half goal by C.J. Sapong, the Galaxy stayed the course and rode their halftime sub to three points. Ibrahimovic played in Ola Kamara for the equalizer before Alessandrini’s magic put the Galaxy in front.
The Frenchman danced past Ray Gaddis on the left wing before finding Ibrahimovic inside the box. The Swede’s strong finish had the Galaxy in front before the Frenchman’s late corner was headed in by Michael Ciani as the final blow.
“In the first-half we struggled with possession a little and we needed more of that to get back into the match, which we did,” Schmid said. “Switching Romney over to deal with Picault quieted his influence on the match and we knew if we had chances we would get back into the match.”
“We weren’t as hungry in the first-half but we became more open in the second-half,” Ibrahimovic said. “Romain is a talented player and being able to come on and do what he was able to do, just shows his ability to change a match. It was an important sub for us, and in the end we won the match because of it.”
The Union were able to play more freely in the first-half with the lead, but LA really shut them down after going ahead. Continuous pressure offensively by LA kept the Union on the back foot, with Ibrahimovic and Alessandrini holding possession when needed. The Union’s defenders tried to help in their attacking efforts, but the threat of LA’s wingers bombing upfield forced them to stay still.
Back-to-back weekend trips to the East Coast now see the Galaxy return home with six points out of six, and sitting in fourth place. Being able to fight back for a win in rough conditions Saturday night will certainly add to the confidence in the locker room which Schmid feels is big coming home.
“Anytime you can take six points out of six across country is huge and especially big now coming home,” Schmid said. “We were a little fortunate last weekend in New England but things even out at times.
“Now with these wins we’re able to out ourselves in a good position in the standings and even a playoff spot, so winning back-to-back out of conference matches are huge as we prepare for a Thursday game against a big rival.”
The Galaxy now prepares themselves for an in-state showdown with LAFC on Thursday. Ibrahimovic stole the show in their first ever meeting, scoring two goals in his MLS Debut as the Galaxy triumphed, 4-3, at Stubhub Center.
As they prepare to meet for the second time in 2018, the Swedish star is expecting a great atmosphere from both teams as he looks to replicate his past performance.
“Now we head home to prepare for LAFC which will be a huge game for us,” Ibrahimovic said. “It will be a new show and hopefully there will be some sun outside for us because both teams will go for it.”