Zlatan Ibrahimovic was forced to watch his LA Galaxy teammates from the bench on Saturday, when they drew 1-1 with the Portland Timbers. Galaxy manager Sigi Schmid opted not to play the veteran Swedish striker, despite losing a number of key players to international duty.
With Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos destined for the World Cup with Mexico, and striker Ola Kamara on international duty with Norway, Sigi Schmid found himself lacking forward options on Saturday. The obvious choice would be to start Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has already racked up five goals in 10 appearances for Galaxy this season. With Zlatan approaching 37-years-of-age however, Schmid has taken a more cautious approach to handling the strikers minutes on the pitch.
Schmid in stead opted for the partnership of Emmanuel Boateng and Chris Pontius, which proved to be an inspired choice, with Pontius netting to earn a point for Galaxy, and end the Timbers’ six-match winning streak.
“It was decision that we felt we had to make,” said Schmid, “We didn’t want [Zlatan] to play a lot of minutes on it, so basically that’s the way we went,”
Zlatan eventually came off the bench for the final 18 minutes of the game, but failed to make a significant impact.
“I was happy with how we played,” Schmid said. “Obviously we got shots, we go to do a better job of putting our shots on target. There are a couple of our front players that are not in a good rhythm right now, just not in good form, but I thought overall the team did a good job defensively.”
In fact, LA Galaxy only registered three shots on target, and while they did a stellar job in shutting out Portland’s forwards in the first-half, Galaxy’s defenders owed a huge debt of gratitude to keeper David Bingham, who made a number of important stops to keep the scores level.
“Obviously we’re missing a couple key pieces but the beautiful thing about our team is we are deep,” said Chris Pontius. “We’ve got guys who have played in big games and know how to play a few different roles.”