Following the very new but nevertheless very exciting El Trafico rivalry between Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s LA Galaxy and Carlos Vela’s LAFC last week… we got the inside scoop on what a certain talismanic Swede thinks about the MLS.
The game ended in a thrilling 3-2 in favor of the Galaxy thanks to a Zlatan hat trick, while Vela scored 2 or LAFC in a game that saw the two golden boot leaders go head-to-head. Zlatan, a public figure who has always embraced his ego-driven personality let the US media know what he has thought about his time in MLS since arriving from Manchester United after cutting his 2nd stint with the Premier League club short.
In an interview following his hat trick in El Trafico, Zlatan said:
“MLS is not the level of Europe, to be honest,” “Before, I played with players either on my level or close to it. Which makes the game connect easier.
“Here, I am like a Ferrari among Fiats. And it can happen that the Ferrari can become the Fiat, or the Fiat can become the Ferrari.
“I had the same issue with the national [Swedish] team, though not as much. I said, ‘I don’t accept it. I don’t accept when the ball doesn’t arrive, or arrives too late. I want them to come up to my level.’ All of this makes me slow down a bit. The game here [in America] could be so much faster, so much more tactical, so much more rhythmic.”
A Ferrari amongst Fiats. Since David Beckham’s famous move to the Galaxy from Real Madrid early on in the decade, the MLS has been home to many top legends of the game who are winding down their careers. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are two examples of top players who ended their career in the US. Wayne Rooney and Bastian Sweinsteiger are current players expected to end their career in America as well.
This is the first time however, that a player has openly criticized the league so brutally… and yet, so honestly. A player famous for his nomadic playing career, Zlatan has experienced many different styles of play varying by country and generation of players. Of everything that he has played with and against, the 37 year old has pinned the MLS to be the worst he has been involved in since his time with the Swedish National Team.
Am I offended that he insulted our growing league in the US? Nah not really. Am I glad that he stayed honest with the footballing media of this country to give an assessment as to how far off we really are from being a top league? You bet. Did anyone think we were a top league yet? No. There’s no shame in saying we are a developing league… and it’s interviews like these that give us insight on how we are doing. The fact we can attract big names like Zlatan is amazing for the growth of the MLS and it is these players that can compare our league with the top leagues they have played in during their primes.
For now, it looks like Zlatan will have to deal with football below his standards but in an exit press conference when he retires/moves, if he says that this league has improved, then we are on the right track to success in making the MLS a top league in football around the world.
Written by: Adnrew Diefenderfer (@DiefDorf)