Zlatan Ibrahimovic, LA Galaxy Star, Named Top MLS Newcomer

Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the Los Angeles Galaxy was on Monday named as Major League Soccer Newcomer of the Year, defeating England’s Wayne Rooney among others for the award. Ibrahimovic won in a balloting of MLS coaches and players plus a media panel with an average of 36.36 percent support to 32.25 percent for DC United captain Rooney. Mexico’s Carlos Vela of Los Angeles FC was third on 13.47 percent. Ibrahimovic scored 22 goals and added 10 assists in what was only the third 20-and-10 season in MLS history. The Galaxy went 9-2 with four drawn when the Swedish icon scored a goal.

With a roundhouse volley kick to score against Toronto FC on September 15, Ibrahimovic netted his 500th career goal, joining Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as only the third active player to reach that lofty milestone.

Ibrahimovic failed to lead the Galaxy into the playoffs but his career has already included titles with European giants FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan.

He has also netted a record 62 goals for Sweden, with star turns in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

Rooney, who scored 12 goals in 21 appearances for DC United after joining the club in July and lifting them from the cellar to the playoffs, won the nod in voting from club technical staff — 34.31 percent to 28.43 percent over Zlatan.

But the Swede edged Rooney in player balloting 34.99 to 30.90 percent and decisively took media voting 45.65 percent to 31.53 percent.

Newcomer of the Year recognizes players in their first MLS season but with prior professional experience, making Rookie of the Year candidates ineligible.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney Among MLS Most Valuable Player Finalists

England’s Wayne Rooney, Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez were among five finalists named on Wednesday for Major League Soccer’s 2018 Most Valuable Player Award. Hours before the North American league began its playoff championship run, the league announced finalists for its season awards, topped by the MVP race, which also includes Mexico’s Carlos Vela and Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron. Zlatan scored 22 goals and added 10 assists — only the fourth 20-and-10 season in MLS history — but the Los Angeles Galaxy just missed out on a playoff berth.

Rooney revived DC United after his mid-season arrival, lifting the club from last place into a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a playoff spot. The former England and Manchester United star netted 12 goals and assisted on seven others in 18 matches.

Vela, a World Cup starter fior Mexico, scored 14 goals and added 13 assists to spark Los Angeles FC to the best season by any first-year expansion club in league history.

Rooney, Zlatan and Vela are also the finalists for Newcomer of the Year, a pro player who made his MLS debut this year.

Martinez shattered the MLS record with 31 goals this season for Atlanta United while teammate Almiron, last year’s Newcomer of the Year, contributed 12 goals and 14 assists for Atlanta’s league-best scoring attack.

Zlatan is also in the last three for Comeback Player of the Year along with Cuban midfielder Osvaldo Alonso of the Seattle Sounders and American forward Gyasi Zardes of the Columbus Crew.

MLS Coach of the Year candidates included Americans Bob Bradley, who guided LAFC to an expansion-team record 57 points and Peter Vermes, who oversaw Sporting Kansas City to the Western Conference title, and Argentina’s Gerardo Martino, who managed Atlanta United’s second-place run in the Eastern Conference.

Goalkeeper of the Year finalists were Swiss Stefan Frei of Seattle and American Luis Robles of New York Red Bulls and Zack Steffen of Columbus.

Defender of the Year finalists were Americans Aaron Long of the New York Red Bulls, Chad Marshall of the Seattle Sounders and Michael Parkhurst of Atlanta United.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic Happy To Make Toronto FC His 500th Goal Victim

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic made history on Saturday, scoring his 500th career goal in stunning fashion, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Los Angeles Galaxy to a win over Toronto FC. The 36-year-old Ibrahimovic has always had a flair for the dramatic and he did just that in becoming the third active footballer to reach the milestone for club and country, joining Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The six-foot-five (1.95 metre) Ibrahimovic delivered a perfectly-timed roundhouse kick in the 43th minute that fooled goalkeeper Alex Bono for his 17th goal of the season.

The goal cut the deficit to 3-1 and sparked a three-goal Galaxy rally, but the defending MLS champions held on to win 5-3 in front of a crowd of 30,700 at BMO Field in Toronto.

“I am happy for Toronto because they will be remembered as my 500th victim,” said Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic came into Saturday’s game tied for second in MLS scoring. He has 17 goals and eight assists in 22 appearances with the Galaxy.

Jonathan dos Santos volleyed the ball over to the Swedish star who whipped around and tapped it home.

“I was close to the goal. It reminds me of a goal I did in Ajax,” said Ibrahimovic, who has five game winners for Los Angeles. “It came from a cross and I turned around and I hit it. I was just trying to hit the goal and it went in.”

Ibrahimovic scored 62 of his goals for Sweden with the rest coming while playing for Malmo FF, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and now the Galaxy.

Jonathan Osorio’s 75th-minute go-ahead goal halted a three-goal Galaxy comeback and helped give Toronto some much needed points in their playoff push.

Jay Chapman added an insurance goal in stoppage time with a low shot to the corner.

Ibrahimovic left Manchester United to join the Galaxy at the start of this season.

“It is an incredible achievement,” said Galaxy coach Dominic Kinnear of Ibrahimovic’s goal. “The guy is a great goal scorer and it is a memorable one for him for many reasons.” 

Asked if it was memorable one for the coach, Kinnear said, “In about 10 years from now.”

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David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic Agree On World Cup Bet. Here Are The Terms Of The Deal

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham may not be in action at the FIFA World Cup in Russia but the former Paris Saint-Germain teammates have agreed on the terms of a friendly bet ahead of the quarter-final showdown between England and Sweden that will be played at Samara Arena on Saturday. Ibrahimovic, who represented Sweden at two World Cups, kicked off the proceedings with an Instagram post directed at Beckham, writing, “Yo @davidbeckham if @england wins I buy you dinner where ever you want in the world, but if @swemnt wins you buy me what ever I want from @ikeasverige ok?”

Beckham, the former England captain, confidently responded, writing, “@iamzlatanibrahimovic if @swemnt win I will personally take you to @ikeasverige and buy you what ever you need for the new mansion in LA @lagalaxy, but when @england win I want you to come watch an @england game at Wembley wearing an England shirt and enjoy fish & chips at half time.”

Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s all-time top scorer with 62 goals, is now playing Beckham’s old side LA Galaxy. Therefore, Galaxy sealed the agreement between the two men, with eyes set to be on them to see if they carry out their respective forfeits.

The Swedes have advanced to the World Cup’s last eight for the first time since 1994. “They should continue doing what they’re doing,” Ibrahimovic said. 

“It’s difficult to play against them and to score against them. If they can keep it up, they have a good chance.”

The two men’s careers have followed similar paths, both also playing for the likes of Manchester United, PSG and AC Milan.

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Sweden Talisman Emil Forsberg Brushes Off Zlatan Ibrahimovic Comparisons

“You can talk about it, I won’t do that”, he answered tersely when asked if Sweden‘s run to the last eight at the World Cup in Russia is linked to Ibrahimovic’s absence.

The facts, however, cannot be denied.

With “Ibrakadabra” in the team, Sweden bowed out of the World Cup finals twice at the last-16 stage, against Senegal in 2002 and then Germany in 2006.

A bleak period followed for both Sweden and Ibrahimovic as they failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, then lost a playoff against Portugal and missed the 2014 finals.

Ibrahimovic, now 36 and playing for Los Angeles Galaxy, retired from he national team after Euro 2016 when Sweden finished last in their group. He scored a remarkable 62 goals in 116 appearances.

‘Light a fire’

While Ibrahimovic embraced his role as Sweden’s star, Forsberg shuns the limelight, although he is just as important to the team.

“I have the feeling that after Zlatan’s retirement, the pressure or expectation grew,” Forsberg said in an interview before the World Cup.

He said his new role sometimes means being tough on his teammates, “especially if you want success” — he said he sometimes now has to “light a fire under the boys’ arses”.

Just as when Ibrahimovic was around, Sweden can be seen as 10 warriors and one artist — but Forsberg lacks the ego and interprets his role differently.

The winger chases the glory of scoring goals with just as much determination as the ponytailed Ibrahimovic.

However, Forsberg is equally committed to his defensive work, pressing as hard as any teammate when the opponent has the ball and putting in tackles — not Ibra’s forte.

Forsberg is often at the heart of Sweden’s attack, because no other teammate has such playmaking or technical ability.

“He sets the pace,” said Sweden coach Janne Andersson.

Yet Forsberg’s ambitions nearly fell at the first hurdle when, as a teenager, he was rejected at an elite training camp for being too small.

“I was crushed,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘what am I supposed to do? Magically grow taller? If I can’t even make this camp, how am I ever going to play for Sweden?'”

However, Forsberg made his professional debut three years later and attributes his success to his wife, Shanga, who played for RB Leipzig’s women’s team, who he refers to as “The Sheriff”.

“Straight away, she started pushing me to be more aggressive and helping me to get better,” said Forsberg after the couple met when he was 14.

His biggest fan is also his harshest critic.

Wife biggest critic

“The only time I get nervous in football is after I play a bad game,” Forsberg revealed.

“You see, when I get home that night, I know what’s coming… a meeting with ‘the Sheriff’.

“And let me tell you, it can be brutal. The Sheriff always gives it to me straight.

“And if the Sheriff gets really pissed off… well, you don’t want to be in the same room.

“I could start answering back. But, well, this is marriage, and you know how these arguments work. I’ve got no chance!”

Thankfully, Forsberg rarely has a poor game and the couple are expecting their first child next month.

Having made his Swedish league debut in 2009 for home-town club Sundsvall, he had a two-year stint at Malmo. His performances attracted Leipzig, backed by energy drink giant Red Bull, in 2015.

Forsberg scored eight goals and made a league-record 19 assists in Leipzig’s stunning first season in the German league in 2016/17.

He also netted Leipzig’s first-ever Champions League goal last season in a 1-1 draw with Monaco.

Now is his chance to make more history by ending Sweden’s 24-year wait for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic Says FIFA World Cup Without Him Is Not Worth Watching

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Says FIFA World Cup Without Him Is Not Worth Watching

Ibrahimovic had clinched the Swedish forward of the year on 11 occasions. © FIFA

After retiring from Swedish national team in 2016, star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic admitted that he will miss the forthcoming FIFA World Cup slated to get underway in Russia from June 14. However, the 36-year-old, who earned 116 caps to his name from 2001 to 2006, also said the World Cup will not be worth watching for the fans as he will not figure for his national side. “It was clear that I was not going to be in the national team playing, but like I said four years ago, and I say it again now: the FIFA World Cup without me is not worth watching! I really mean that,” the LA Galaxy player told FIFA.com.

Ibrahimovic, who had scored 62 goals for his national team, also said Sweden had beaten some big teams to enter the tournament and expectations are high from them. “They beat some big nations to reach the World Cup, so let’s see. Everything is exciting and new. You never know what will happen. It’s all about the moment. Whoever is best in the moment is the one that will do well.”

Talking about his first World Cup memories, the former Manchester United striker said: “I remember well when it was in the USA in 1994 when Sweden came third, because it was a big thing at the time in Sweden of course.”

Ibrahimovic had clinched the Swedish forward of the year on 11 occasions and Swedish personality of the year once in 2002.

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No Zlatan Ibrahimovic, No Surprise As Sweden Name Squad

Sweden coach Janne Andersson named a 23-man World Cup squad on Tuesday that dashed the faint hopes of fans expecting to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic feature at Russia 2018. Sweden beat Italy in the World Cup play-offs last November, sparking speculation that former Juventus, AC Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic would come out of international retirement. Two weeks ago the 6ft 4ins (1.95m) striker, who quit the national squad in 2016 and is now playing for Los Angeles Galaxy in Major Soccer League, said he would not change his mind on the matter.

Sweden squad:

Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen (FC Copenhagen/DEN), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea/ENG), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp/FRA).

Defenders: Andreas Granqvist (Krasnodar/RUS), Victor Nilsson Lindelof, (Manchester United/ENG), Mikael Lustig (Celtic/SCO), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen/GER), Pontus Jansson (Leeds/ENG), Emil Krafth (Bologna/ITA), Filip Helander (Bologna/ITA), Martin Olsson (Swansea/ENG).

Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson (Hull/ENG), Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders FC/USA), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg/GER), Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig/GER), Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar/RUS), Jimmy Durmaz (Toulouse/FRA), Marcus Rohden (Crotone/ITA), Oscar Hiljemark (Genoa/ITA)

Forwards: Marcus Berg (Al Ain/UAE), John Guidetti (Alaves/ESP), Isaac Kiese-Thelin (Waslan Beeveren/BEL), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse/FRA)

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