MLS and the LA Galaxy announced late last night/this morning that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is skipping the MLS All-Star Game against Juventus this Wednesday. Per league policy, that also means he will have to miss the club’s next match, which is August 4th vs. the Colorado Rapids.
The press release I received via email just said:
Jonathan Tannenwald shared this press release from the Galaxy:
From the Galaxy: “Due to three matches in a week and the travel involved, Ibrahimović will remain in Los Angeles.” pic.twitter.com/QoZj2G0riC— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) July 30, 2018
It sounds to me that LA didn’t want Zlatan to play three games in one week (he played a full 90 minutes last night vs. Orlando City SC and got a hat trick) with travel to Atlanta to play on turf and Colorado to play at altitude.
On the one hand, I wonder if they aren’t super concerned about their match vs. the struggling Rapids since LA is sitting pretty in third place with 35 points. On the other hand, there are only five points separating second place and sixth place in the Western Conference, so I’d think they’d want to but their best starting XI forward in every game, especially against conference rivals. Maybe the risk wasn’t worth it.
All that being said, the MLS policy is ridiculous.
In 2016, Kaká was forced to play in the all-star game despite missing recent matches with Orlando due to injury or he would have been fined. Now it appears that the policy has changed to essentially a suspension for not attending the all-star game. I get that they want the big names there and it’s a big deal with the international team coming and all that but shouldn’t a player’s regular season matter more? Shouldn’t their club come first?
Of course players should be encouraged to attend the all-star game if selected, but this feels like a bit much.
The Rapids are heading to LA to play the Galaxy on Tuesday, August 14th, where they will surely get the full Zlatan experience. Colorado fans, however, will miss out this time around.
UPDATE: MLS All-Star Coach Tata Martino chose Minnesota United FC forward Darwin Quintero and New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams to replace Ibrahimovic and New York City FC forward David Villa. Villa has an ongoing injury and has missed the last six regular season matches.