Tag Archives: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

LA Galaxy Independence Day Draw: Fun, Friends, Food, and Fireworks

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Starting XI

David Bingham, Dave Romney, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, Bradford Jamieson IV, Romain Alessandrini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Bench

Justin Vom Steeg, Daniel Steres, Sheanon Williams, Joao Pedro, Baggio Husidic, Ariel Lassiter, Ola Kamara.

It was the best Fourth of July I’ve ever had. This was also the 13th anniversary of my  supporting the Galaxy.

It started when I arrived with my Turkish student, Emre, who likes to be known as “EA” cuz of the FIFA video games. We were earlier than the friends I was meeting up with so I took him to the team store to buy Zlatan Ibrahimovic shirts for his little family members.  On our way through Lot 13 of StubHub Center, I got recognized by some tailgate friends.

(Left to right): Luis Baron, Bobby Lepe, and David Orona from the LA is Our House Podcast. Behind us: Emre, Jamie Bacon, and Leslie Chavez (Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink)

EA and I headed into the stadium an hour early so he could get the whole experience of warmups and we could get close seats at the General Admission section.

StubHub Center at sunset. Photo Credit: Jamie Bacon

EA had his phone camera ready. He said he could feel a goal coming. The DC United side started with the ball in front of where we were sitting. The Galaxy got the ball forward within the first five minutes of the match, Dave Romney made a perfect cross to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and he had plenty of space to kick it right in. See the goal below:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal. Footage credit: Emre Akca

LA Galaxy celebrate Ibrahimovic’s goal (Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink)

It was a challenging match against DC United. 25, 462 were in attendance. David Bingham made a save in the 11th minute. He’s a consistent and reliable goalkeeper. Still, The Galaxy looked good and confident, they seemed to really be playing together as a team.

In the 25th minute, Jorgen Skejelvik made an unbelievable cross to Chris Pontius, who then scored a golazo with his left foot: a really nice goal shot in the left top corner of the net, but less than a minute later and DC’s Zoltan Stieber stole his thunder with a goal of his own, making it 2-1 with the Blue and Gold still in the lead.

Very quickly after that, the Galaxy got possession again and Romain Alessandrini had a free kick. It was chaos in the box as the Galaxy tried to get back on the ball, but the referee blew the whistle signifying offsides right before a header by Michael Ciani went into the back of the net. Ciani went down and then out to get a bleeding injury taken care of. He changed his jersey and came back in.

Meanwhile, in the 31st minute, Bradford Jamieson IV left the game for Baggio Husidic.  That was just the first half.

Romain Alessandrini takes a corner kick (Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink)

During halftime, in true American fashion, Serviceman Ballew surprised and reunited with his family on the pitch. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

In the second half, nothing came of LAG’s play. Ibrahimovic made a selfish effort in the 59th minute and the ball went high over the net. The usual backline defense cracked like the San Andreas and they lost their momentum.  In the 69th minute, Ola Kamara came on and a spark of hope came, but then was snuffed out again as his goal was called offside by the rigid ref.

You didn’t need a crystal ball to see another DC United goal coming in the 85th minute by Darren Mattocks.

The final score was 2-2, officially a draw, but it felt like a loss. Ibrahimovic was visibly upset and he stormed off alone back to the tunnel.

Still, Emre told me it was an unforgettable experience in the best way and I’m glad I brought him, especially since he could meet fellow fans and friends.

My thoughts

Most of the defense stands around and just watches. They need to be transferred. The G’s are only one goal worse differential from the same amount of points last season, meaning, they’re just as bad despite all the talent and money spent on the team.  If they don’t start winning, they won’t make the playoffs.

Week 19 came and went, this is when the season really begins and more changes will be made, but how will it affect the Galaxy and how will they adapt? Will they end up finishing 9th in the West? As it stands, they are 8th place. We’ll have to keep watching and see.

The next match is expected to be sweltering at StubHub Center, Saturday July 7, so kick off has been pushed to 7:30pm.

Featured image of me and friends. Image: Jamie Bacon

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LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes Come to a Heated Draw in CaliClasico Part 2

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

June 30, 2018

Starting XI: David Bingham; Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik; Ashley Cole (c); Chris Pontius, Perry Kitchen, Joao Pedro, Bradford Jamieson IV, Romain Alessandrini; Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Bench: Justin Vom Steeg, Daniel Steres, Sheanon Williams, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Baggio Husidic, Ariel Lassiter.

Most of the LA Galaxy’s regular players were out injured. The Dos Santos brothers are still away on World Cup duty in Russia, though Giovani Dos Santos was the only one who’s seen any minutes on the pitch there.

CaliClasico kicked off full throttle at Stanford. Just in the first half, five goals had been scored.

The Galaxy’s fire started when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored not even one minute into the match.

Then, a penalty was given to San Jose. Chris Wondolowski took it and missed initially, then scored on the rebound save from David Bingham.

Romain Alessandrini scored in the 20th minute over the wall on a free kick.

Then, Ibrahimovic scored again in the 25th minute on a ball that went all the way through to the back of the net.

Fifteen minutes later, the Quake’s Valeri Qazaishvili pulled one back and the game was set at 3-2 by the end of the first half.

The Galaxy almost had it, then were careless near and in the box.
Another penalty was given to San Jose and Wondolowski didn’t miss that one in the 69th minute.

The match ended in a 3-3 draw. Both teams played equally poorly. They gave up too many goals and fouls.

The Galaxy’s Bradford Jamieson IV did not look as good as he did during the U.S. Open Cup debut match. He committed a foul in the box that took down SJ’s Magnus Eriksson resulting in the first penalty.

The Galaxy dropped 2 points on the road. I say that because they gave up two penalties and they had the lead and then dropped it.

It’s time to move on now as LA have two home games this week. July 4th and July 7th. Both have 7pm kick-off times.

 

Featured image: Alessandrini Instagram

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LA Galaxy Pride Night not One to be Proud of

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Wednesday, May 30: 2-3 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Daniel Steres, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Servando Carrasco; Romain Alessandrini, Sebastian Lletget, Ola Kamara; Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Bench

Justin Vom Steeg: Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Emrah Klimenta, Joao Pedro, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: @LAGalaxy

We are in season 22 of the LA Galaxy and currently it looks like the writers have no idea what they are doing. Tomas Hilliard-Arce got his second start. They have a poor back line of defense that keeps changing and lacks pace to track and defend center attacks. Ola Kamara should not be playing the left wing since it’s a waste of a valuable player. Michael Ciani and Emmanuel Boateng got subbed in the 58th minute, finally making it the 3-5-2 formation it should’ve been, moving Captain Ashley Cole to center mid, which is not a position for him to make plays happen. The attack and play got better.

These are just a few points that serve to support firing head coach Sigi Schmid. Anyone watching can tell the players are all frustrated, which affects their play. Sebastian Lletget had another disappointing performance.

It was like watching a re-run episode but with 18,003 viewers this match, which is great for a Wednesday evening. The Galaxy conceded two goals in the first half and then fought as hard as they could, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the one to score a brace. It was not enough as the Galaxy fell again at home 3-2 to FC Dallas.

This show has me so emotional; the yanking on the fans’ heart-strings, the angst, and the ‘will they or won’t they,’ especially in front of seven of my international guests, was hard to watch.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
My international students and I. Image credit to StubHub Center staff

One of my ESL students raised my spirits, though, saying the important thing is to have faith and keep supporting. They were excited and satisfied with Ibrahimovic’s goals, but his performance seemed to be half-hearted. He would get the ball, but not create space for himself to shoot. In the 64th minute, he had a goal that was called offside. His consolation goal came in the 69th minute. His second goal in the 97th minute. You read that right, FC Dallas time-wasted so much that there was eight minutes of stoppage time.

The LA Galaxy are a star-studded cast and have talent. They had 12 corners all match and were even up a man by the 80th minute when FCD’s Cristian Coleman was given a red. They fought hard until the end, especially Romain Alessandrini, who gives 110 percent every match, and his shot hit the crossbar in the 84th minute.

From the 85th minute, the match got crazy. Chris Pontius came on for Hilliard-Arce in the 86th minute. Dallas players were falling down, LA fans were booing, and the referee made questionable calls. But, the team’s effort was too little too late.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Unusual, gloomy weather in LA. Image: @mchuitink

David Bingham keeps making saves, which is super, but he wouldn’t have to work like that if the backline didn’t give up so many chances to the opponents. But, the touches and possession of the ball of the defenders begged the question if they’re used to playing pro. To top it all off, many fans still chanted the homophobic goalkeeper chant despite it being Pride Night. This match was embarrassing. The unusually gloomy weather in Los Angeles reflected my feelings.

Let’s put this game behind us like clicking next episode as we head to Portland. Kickoff is at 2pm on June 2nd.

Sebastian Lletget takes a corner, which was very exciting as the Galaxy almost score. Video credit Michelle Huitink

Featured image: Michelle Huitink

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LA Galaxy Win Away and at Home

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

This article is a recap of two games. I wasn’t able to watch the away game because it was a day game and I had to work. Then, I went on vacation and wasn’t able to be at the home game, but I did manage to watch the CaliClasico. That’s how committed I am to my team and MLSFemale, I kept up and followed along via Twitter. Lol.

May 21, 2018 Los Angeles Galaxy vs Montreal Impact

LA Galaxy win 1-0

Starting XI

David Bingham; Emrah Klimenta, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Dave Romney; Perry Kitchen, Sebastian Lletget; Romain Alessandrini, Jonathan dos Santos, Ola Kamara; Zlatan Ibrahimović (c).

Bench

Justin Vom Steeg, Daniel Steres, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Joao Pedro, Servando Carrasco, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius.

Emrah Klimenta made his first start this match. Ashley Cole was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Zlatan Ibrahimovic wore the captain’s band. Despite not conceding goals and the score level at the first half, it was tough as the Galaxy struggled defensively and then went down to 10 men. In the 41st minute after video review, the famous Swedish national was given a straight red because he slapped Montreal’s Michael Petrasso in the head for stepping on his foot.

At first, I was upset. But, then I thought this was the time for the team to step it up once again and for Ola Kamara to shine as he took the captain’s band. And rise and shine he did. He scored what would be the winning goal in the 75th minute; the assist coming from Emmanuel Boateng. David Bingham made five incredible saves to keep Montreal scoreless despite their having 22 shots all match.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: Ola Kamara’s Instagram in the locker room post-match against Montreal Impact

May 25, 2018 CaliClasico LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes

LA Galaxy win 1-0

Starting XI

David Bingham; Emrah Klimenta, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Dave Romney; Perry Kitchen, Sebastian Lletget; Romain Alessandrini, Jonathan dos Santos (c), Chris Pontius; Ola Kamara

Bench

Justin Vom Steeg, Daniel Steres, Ashley Cole, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Servando Carrasco, Emmanuel Boateng, Giovani dos Santos.

Chris Pontius was the only change from the last match’s starting XI. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was suspended this match due to the red card the previous game. Juan Carlos Osario, the Mexican National team manager, was in attendance to scope out the Dos Santos brothers in preparation for the upcoming World Cup, which added pressure.

Jonathan Dos Santos wore the captain’s band til Ashley Cole was subbed in the 66th minute. Giovani Dos Santos had his chance in the 75th minute when he subbed out Sebastian Lletget. It was another painful first half and arguably a terrible 80 minutes as they struggled to make plays happen. The opponents, the San Jose Earthquakes, looked just as bad.

Lletget’s expression when he was subbed out reflected that he wasn’t happy with his performance either; at one point in the 34th minute, he got in the way of teammate Romain Alessandrini’s shot. The game was called boring by fans on Twitter and not looking good seemed to be the standard the Galaxy have set.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: @LAGalaxy The team huddles before the second half starts against San Jose.

The game was barely won when Alessandrini scored a stunning goal in the 82nd minute. The Earthquakes managed not to score, but not from lack of chances even in the remaining few minutes til the whistle blew.

Alessandrini’s goal deserves to be admired, but the way the team’s been playing, it was a quick-lived spark as we are reminded that most of the Galaxy’s play looks like there’s no strategy or chemistry amongst teammates.  Number 7’s been reflecting all the fans with his frustration, so scoring was really good for him.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: @lagalaxy Instagram. Alessandrini’s late-game shot in CaliClasico.

A few more takeaways from these games:

Emmanuel Boateng needs to start. As soon as he enters a game, it immediately changes up the match for the better. He creates chances! He assists! He scores!

The Galaxy put pressure, but they have trouble finishing.

David Bingham is a hero, making dashing saves and keeping a two-game clean sheet.

The Galaxy managed to win back to back games, snapping a four-game losing streak (three of which were at home) without Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the pitch.

With World Cup absences coming up and then the transfer window come July, the Galaxy have a bumpy road ahead, but I’m here for it.

I will be in attendance with several of my international students for Wednesday’s game, which is Pride Night, at StubHub Center. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm PST.

Featured image of Kamara celebrating goal v Montreal: @lagalaxy Instagram 

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The beat goes on as Los Angeles Galaxy lose again

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, May 12: 3-2 Loss

Starting XI: David Bingham; Daniel Steres, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos; Chris Pontius, Romain Alessandrini, Ola Kamara; Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: @LAGalaxy

Bench: Justin Vom Steeg, Emrah Klimenta, Dave Romney, Servando Carrasco, Baggio Husidic, Sebastian Lletget, Emmanuel Boateng.

It’s like having the same bad dream over and over:  The LA Galaxy concede early, chase the game, and fight to come back from behind two goals. It’s going to be reoccurring until they work out the problems, but they have to start tackling the issue of our defense first.

At this point, fans are calling for coach Sigi Schmid to be fired and for the front office to go as well, but the latter won’t happen as most have a five-year contract extension. The MLS salaries were also released revealing the Galaxy as having the highest paid defense with not much to show for it.

Saturday, Los Angeles Galaxy took on FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium and it turned out to be a wild one. The humidity and almost 90 degree weather added to the challenging elements of this particular match. Frequent water breaks were taken and FC Dallas knew how to run and tire LAG out in such conditions, messing with their momentum.

It started with Maximiliano Urruti who scored in the 28th minute. Then, in the 44th minute, FCD’s Roland Lamah scored. At that point, a change needed to be made and Sebastian Lletget came in for Perry Kitchen. Ashley Cole got a yellow card, which suspends him for the next match.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Celebration after Ola Kamara’s goal. Image: @LAGalaxy

Then, a breath of life for the Galaxy came from Ola Kamara with a header off a corner kick in the 47th minute, cutting the Texas team’s lead in half.  Lamah scored again, though, in the 52nd minute. The Galaxy made another change when Jonathan dos Santos got hurt and Servando Carrasco subbed in at the 56th minute. The Mexican national was not seriously injured.

Reto Ziegler earned two yellow cards, which gave the Galaxy an advantage as they were up a man. Still, despite a fighting effort, the LA Galaxy came up short.

Emmanuel Boateng came in for Chris Pontius in the 76th minute and he scored a goal in the 83rd minute of play. It seemed the Galaxy could catch up.

I clung to hope as the minutes ticked away. In the 88th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic took a free kick that hit the top post with such fervor that the entire net shook!

Watch below:

That was not the last thrill as the Galaxy created chances and took shots til the whistle blew.

It is disheartening to write that a team with a stellar squad, most notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara, is in 9th place in the Western Conference at the close of Week 11.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in action. Image: @LAGalaxy

But, The Whispers sang a similar tune: the beat goes on, I might as well get over the blues. Let’s move on strong. LAG’s next match is once again on the road as they are set to face Montreal Impact on Monday, May 21st.

Featured image: @LAGalaxy 

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Keep on keeping on, LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, April 21: 0-2 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos (Baggio Husidic), Sebastian Lletget; Ola Kamara, Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
LA Galaxy Instagram

Substitutions

Justin Vom Steeg, Dave Romney, Servando Carrasco, Michael Ciani, Giovani dos Santos, Baggio Husidic, Chris Pontius.

“You lost? Even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic?” A student asked me about Saturday’s match.

Yes, we did. And I had to watch from my friend’s place while I was visiting Washington state. I tried to DVR it but didn’t have the option, so I made a point to watch live and take notes. I’m that dedicated.

Our strategy can’t be to keep passing the ball to Ibrahimovic; it will get predictable. And we have other players who can score.

I hate when we lose at home. But, it could have been worse. Most of the scores I see involving Atlanta United are where they scored like 5 goals lol. So, that this wasn’t worse is a good thing. We dodged a bullet shot early on from Ezequiel Barco.

I attribute this to David Bingham, our goalkeeper, making saves.

I understand LA Galaxy fans are frustrated, so is Ola Kamara because he hasn’t scored since the home opener. But, I believe it’s only a matter of time. We just have to keep at it.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: my TV

I was salty about that first goal by Josef Martinez because it was done on poor clearance. Then, I was glad when they missed the penalty that I didn’t think should’ve been called in the first place. “The ball does not lie.” Was my reaction. But then, their second goal was a penalty scored by Miguel Almiron.

The truth is, Atlanta deserved to win that game. We should have scored, but we didn’t. The fact it was just 2-0 just means our defense actually was pretty good.

The Galaxy did well at adapting play against a team like Atlanta United where you need to build up plays and passing quickly and we did that in the first eleven minutes. Perry Kitchen did his job pushing and pulling in the defense.

Ibrahimovic played a full 90 minutes, for the first time in over a year, which is good news.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Before playing, the Galaxy honored Tommy Mark, a youth player who recently passed away, with applause and the team wore black armbands.

The next match will be April 28, 2018, at 7:30PM PST. I’ll be in the stands.

Featured image courtesy: LA Galaxy Instagram 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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LA Galaxy: should’ve scored more, but didn’t

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, April 14: 0-1 Win

Starting XI
David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget; Ola Kamara, Zlatan Ibrahimović

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Substitutions
Justin Vom Steeg, Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Servando Carrasco, Baggio Husidic, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius

“We come with the sun, they come with the wind, but the sun was the stronger one today.”  -Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Oh, the wind and the rain. SoCal has been quite warm lately, 85F just a few days last week. So, traveling to Chicago where it’s 35F, raining, windy, and cold; we are too LA for that. Sure, the weather played a big factor, but I will not use it as an excuse.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the lone goal, the lion leading the pride. Sure, he’s doing his thing, but this is cause for concern among fans. The second half was sloppy for us and it wasn’t because of Mother Nature. We did the best we could under those conditions and the first half really showed that.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Sebastian Lletget and Zlatan Ibrahimovic started! This is fantastic since they’re both getting back to fitness coming off injuries from last year and also because they’ve been scoring this year. We also know that this means they’ll be subbed. We’ve got to take care of our key players. We want to be up in goals before they come off the pitch.

The most frustrating was two LA Galaxy goals being rescinded. In the 5th minute, Ola Kamara was called offside, which he was but barely. He’s a hungry panther and hasn’t scored since the home opener. Then, in the 8th minute, VAR took what would’ve been an own goal on Chicago’s part. Yes, we should’ve scored more, but we didn’t.

We want to score goals, but as we saw in the second half of this game, we have to get the game on lockdown before the team, in this case, the Chicago Fire, take advantage of set pieces and score. We got lucky this time. But, Chicago had too many chances. It was scary after the 51st minute when they got three corners almost in a row. Even if we are up just one goal, let’s focus on defense rather than attack and scoring (I’m having deja vu, I think I said this in preseason and the home opener).

Complaints will happen no matter how we are doing, but let’s keep our cool like the Galaxy should as we watch our team work out the kinks. They need to play through, regain control and possession, and keep up the effort so we can figure out how to make the pieces work. We are going to continue to see problems in our defense, our finishing (especially in front of the net, I mean even Ibrahimovic missed twice), chemistry, tactics, and strategies until we get it right, so yeah mistakes and sloppy play are going to feel like deja vu. I just hope the Galaxy don’t get predictable either way.

Satisfactory doesn’t seem good enough for the best team in the league; that said, this isn’t the same team as last season, which in this case is a good thing. So, we take this win and keep the momentum going, focusing on what we’ve done right like Ashley Cole getting passes to Ibrahimovic that result in goals.

David Bingham made some really good saves, most of which took place in the second half.

Chris Pontius, Emmanuel Boateng, and Baggio Husidic came in as subs and I think these were good moves.

So far, I think we are doing quite alright. It’s week 7 and we are second in the west.

The next match is Saturday, April 21st at 7:30PST at StubHub Center. I’ll be out of town, but I’ll be watching.

Featured image courtesy: Romain Alessandrini Instagram 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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LA Galaxy Snap Back to Reality

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Sunday, April 8: 0-2 Loss

LA Galaxy Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos; Chris Pontius, Romain Alessandrini, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara

No game is going to ever live up to the LA Galaxy vs Los Angeles FC again in the MLS. So, it’s no surprise to me that reality would hit us in the face on this night.

If you’re a fan of the Galaxy and you’re reading this, you’ve known our defense needed work since preseason.

Our starting XI and our bench, with a couple of exceptions, are totally good players.

I hope this 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City reminds us of the work that needs to be done.  Let’s not overreact due to the past trauma that was the 2017 season; instead, let’s work on our finishing (because we had three shots that hit off the post, so now we are fighting the net at this point), and that we can’t rely on any single player. We are a better than decent team. We just need to follow through.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
LA Galaxy with a chance off a corner in the first half. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

The first half, we played well, much better than versus LAFC. Let’s also not forget that Sporting was missing their main man, Felipe Gutiérrez.  Still, this game was consistent and steady. We attacked and we created chances, putting pressure and often forcing them to get the ball back to their keeper. In the second half, we got sixteen shots on goal, five of which came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sebastian Lletget and Ibrahimovic are still getting back into fitness. It is ultimately up to head coach Sigi Schmid who he starts, but I, as a fan, have to trust in his decisions right now.

Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos, both designated players, starting and playing a good amount of minutes, and coming out hungry and strong, especially after returning from hamstring injuries is awesome but we can’t expect them to push past their limits.

I want everyone fit! We have a long season ahead still.

Overall, I didn’t understand the decisions made by the Galaxy when passing; they always play it on the sides, especially on the right. Then, they bunched up too much, which forced Ibrahimovic to go back with the ball, which doesn’t result in any chances.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Zlatan Ibrahimovic taking a free kick in the 82’. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

I didn’t expect to lose. I’m still not convinced Sporting should be in the number one spot in the western conference.

We had better control of the game and it was a physical match.  SKC just took more advantage of their opportunities when we let two balls slip past us. That’s all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump voice).

Our next match is Saturday, April 14, an away game vs Chicago Fire. It is available to stream via Twitter and watch on Univision Deportes at 12:30PT/2pmCT.

Romain Alessandrini takes on Zusi Graham image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

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Ibrahimovic’s debut: the lightning and the thunder of the LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, March 31: 4-3 Win

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Servando Carrasco; Chris Pontius, Sebastian Lletget, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Substitutions

Justin Vom Steeg, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Emrah Klimenta, Dave Romney, Baggio Husidic, Ariel Lassiter, Zlatan Ibrahimović.

27,000 in attendance. A sold-out crowd. Los Angeles Galaxy vs Los Angeles Football Club: The first match ever of its kind, the LA Derby and El Tràfico, are some of the better names this was called. This game is going down in history and soccer people will be talking about it for the rest of our lives. Friends of mine who don’t even care about soccer or live in other countries heard all about it. We’ll get to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but just like we fans in the stands had to wait, so do you. Lol. It’s important to recognize how we struggled to appreciate our success.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Pre-game warm-ups. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

LAFC showed how fast they were in the first half. They also put a lot of pressure that the Galaxy doesn’t seem used to.  The pressure often forced the Galaxy to play on the right to Rolf Feltscher, who would try to get crosses or pass, but once the Galaxy would get a shot, LAFC would get the ball back and take it straight down the field as many described as one-way traffic.

All of this resulted in LAFC’s #10 Carlos Vela scoring twice in the 5th and 26th minutes.

The LA Galaxy seemed to second guess themselves. Ema Boateng would get good momentum and get the ball to Lletget, but a lot of our players were standing and waiting for the ball, and you don’t want to see the ball and Kamara not moving forward, especially down two goals.  The Galaxy also seemed to bunch up too much or too spread out on long passes.

Our defense was definitely lacking, we didn’t have designated players such as Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos due to injuries, and it looked like our guys were missing the chemistry to connect key players with the ball as a result.

Don’t get me wrong, The LA Galaxy are good. They had chances near the end of the first half, in the 45th minute when Chris Pontius knocked on LAFC’s door with the best shot so far, but just couldn’t make it himself nor could he service it to Kamara. Each of our players is capable and has credentials all their own. Ola Kamara is one of the best MLS goal scorers in the last two years. I watched us fight for the ball, Lletget taking on three defenders, getting the ball over to Feltscher. The trio of Boateng, Lletget, and Pontius working together to make plays and create chances. Servando Carrasco earned us a corner in the 48th minute.

LAFC was just the better team. Then, to kick us while we were down, fate would have it that Steres scored an own goal off a deflection.

So, what could coach Sigi Schmid do to improve and give us a chance to come back in the second half? The fans were calling for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But, when the second half started, there were no changes on either side. The game had changed, though, LAFC tried to slow down the pace, but as we saw in the first half, that isn’t how we play. We saw Zlatan warming up by the 52nd minute.

By the 53rd minute, Jorgen Skjelvik, Boateng, and Lletget had strong efforts and chances in the attacking third; Pontius maintaining our possession, which Perry Kitchen, Ashley Cole, and Carrasco got the ball for more chances there, which finally paid off.

LAFC’s defense opened up and in the 61st minute, Lletget scored! Baggio Husidic subbed Servando Carrasco, who assisted in said goal, right after that.

#michellelletget - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget taking a corner kick. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Within twenty minutes, pre-Ibrahimovic, we came back two goals, the second scored by Chris Pontius when he headed in a cross from Boateng and that wonderful goal breathed life back into the team. I emphasize this and my point that the LA Galaxy is a good team this season prior to what happened next. But, we’ll get to it.

The hope in StubHub Center was palpable. The fans were already loud, doing our best to drown out our noisy LAFC neighbors, but the energy was building. Those two goals were flashes of lightning in an important match. The LA Galaxy shirts and board read that we were unrivaled and we had to prove it.

Then, Zlatan Ibrahimovic entered the game in the 71st minute for Lletget. We had been calling for him. Still, despite what he can bring individually, the players on the field had to get the ball to him.

As soon as Ibrahimovic came on, the other nine Galaxy players on the field stepped it up. He provided enough distraction to LAFC and Chris Pontius scored two minutes later. It was just his presence that lifted the game. But, there we were only one goal back with plenty of time.

Then, in the 76th minute, our new number 9 leveled the match.

It was epic. I mean, it is the Ibrahimovic way, but to see a goal shot by him on his debut from 40 yards out after he’d spent so much time recovering and just the day before, his fitness and age being called into question.

Ibrahimovic earned a yellow card for taking off his shirt in celebration. Fans in the stands where I was did the same. The crowd really was thunderous now.

It was almost extra time and we would’ve been happy to tie. But, in the 91st minute, a ball from Cole was headed into the net by none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The crowd went wild, which is an understatement. I’ve supported this team for over a decade and have seen my team come back, but nothing has ever felt quite like this.

We really wanted the whistle at that moment, even though no one had stopped cheering.

Finally, it was over. We had won 4–3. We had come back from a 3 goal deficit. We defeated our new rival.

The LA Galaxy definitely need more control of the game. I spent a good chunk of this article on the first half because it should not be forgotten in all the hype and excitement. Vin Diesel said in The Fast and The Furious that “it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.” But, I want the MLS to be recognized as a solid league on its own. Ibrahimovic coming here gives it an unfair comparison to European leagues. Lletget and Pontius both deserve credit for what they accomplished this match.

I do have concerns as a fan that the Galaxy will rely too much on Ibrahimovic or that his ego will end him up on the bench, but since seeing him at the press conference, and after keeping good on his promise to help us and win, I really think he is the puzzle piece that this team was missing.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
The man of the match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Lastly, besides stressing the point of how skillful the Galaxy are, especially when we get our designated players back from injuries, I hear that Los Angeles has one team. Sure, I want my team to win, but I welcome the new rivalry. I really want the LA Galaxy and LAFC to coexist. One of the best things I saw as I walked back to the parking lot was an LA Galaxy fan walking, talking, shaking hands and being friendly with a LAFC fan then going their separate ways.

There’s another reason this game was special. On a personal note, I was the victim of a hit and run car accident over a year ago that totaled my car and I was lucky not to have been more injured. Many people stopped to help me, but there was a Good Samaritan, George, who stayed with me, kept me calm and helped me until my father and the police could arrive. We kept in touch and to show my gratitude, I invited him to what I knew would be a phenomenal match. This game exceeded both of our expectations. It was his first professional soccer game, but he is definitely a sports person and I enjoyed going over the game with him.

What a game it ended up being. I’m glad I was there. I can’t do this game enough justice, you really had to have been there. I still can’t believe it even after rewatching highlights and the match itself to write this article.

The next match is April 8th and I’m bringing three other friends. We’ll see what that game holds.

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink/mlsfemale

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic officially joins the LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

When I got the call from my LA Galaxy rep, Zack Krukowski, inviting me to attend the press conference as media, I was excited.

#michellecar
Representing MLSFemale, sporting our limited edition pin

As seen below, I embraced my media position:

#michellestand

Upon arrival at StubHub Center and finding my way to the media area, I wasn’t surprised by the frenzy per se, but I had never been part of anything of this caliber. Sure, after the LA Galaxy won in 2012, I joined other fans to see David Beckham and the team showcase the trophies.

This past January, I was at the Galaxy jersey launch party and interviewed players. Then, the next day, I interviewed USMNT forward Jordan Morris, and those experiences stand on their own as valuable. But today, it was literally like the only thing that mattered was that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had arrived.

#michellesmile

I found my seat a few rows back. I went live on MLSFemale’s Instagram. Head coach Sigi Schmid, president Chris Klein, and AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman all thanked Ibrahimovic for choosing the LA Galaxy, especially because he could play anywhere in the world. As Beckerman said, “[this signing] is monumental and the latest example of AEG’s commitment to our club, to our sport, to our league, and to our city.”

As soon as the new forward took to the mic, you could hear the shutters from the cameras going off. Fans cheered, welcoming him, and laughed along with his one-liners.  

Of course, he is here to win.

“I am not arrogant. I am confident.” He said about people who do not understand him. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived the previous night at LAX, he was greeted by fans and graciously gave autographs and took photos.

After seeing his interaction with fans via Periscope and today hearing him at the conference, I have a better understanding of the man and his choice to play for the LA GALAXY, regardless of whether it was an inevitable move. I am not blinded by his shining light. Ibrahimovic is a star, no doubt. I don’t even need to go over his stats and accomplishments because it’s a long list and could go on forever, as he admitted.

I had solid confidence in the overhaul the Galaxy team made after the home opener and our match against the Vancouver Whitecaps despite the problems that have arisen as a result of so many changes. Now, with the addition of Ibrahimovic, I see him fitting in as the self-described “extra puzzle [piece]” to the bigger picture of bringing the Galaxy to success once again. 

He is here to help the club, the coach, and his teammates.  The talk is good, there’s every reason that he will live up to expectations and walk the walk come gameday.

He made jokes addressing concerns about his age: “I feel young, I feel like Benjamin Button…[it is] only numbers I know what I’m able to do, I know what I will do.” He is family oriented and said he already brought them here.  His wife could care for the family so he could get to playing soccer. He added, “to settle in very fast, get to know my teammates, my coach, [and] the people around the club.”

As for concerns about his fitness: “I’m just excited. Looking forward to [playing], just want to go out on the field. I know it has been a long break for me where I haven’t been in my rhythm where I play every day almost because of the injury I had.”

#michellebackj
Head coach Sigi Schmid, president Chris Klein, AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman and Ibrahimovic pose for the media. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

He was available for the match against Los Angeles FC, and he’s willing to play as needed or not and for as long as Sigi requires. He is trusting the coach with the decision-making.

After his first training session and practicing shooting per Sigi’s approval, he said: “the lion is hungry.”

He has worked very hard, to prepare, and knows he has to keep working hard. He doesn’t want to be on the field just because of his name.  He sees the MLS as a competitive league and a real opportunity when compared to European leagues. 

LA Galaxy is recognized as the most successful club in the MLS. He’s aware he’s joining after such a terrible 2017 season, but he said this season is something new.

As for the World Cup, that’s another question. “Let me enjoy [LA] first,” he responded with a winning smile. “What happens here, we can take it further, my focus is on the LA Galaxy.” And that’s what every fan wanted to hear. 

Featured image courtesy: Michelle Huitink/mlsfemale

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