No team in Major League Soccer has been better than the Galaxy over the last month, which led captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic to an interesting conclusion: Perhaps the only team that can beat the Galaxy right now is the Galaxy.
“I think our only threat is ourselves,” he said. “If we relax, if we start to underestimate the team we play against, we will get punished.”
That theory will be put to the test Wednesday at Allianz Field when the Galaxy, riding a league-best five-game winning streak, face Minnesota United, which is 1-3-1 in its last five games.
At 6-1-0 overall, the Galaxy are off to their best start since 2010 and the winning streak is their longest in the regular season since 2014, the last time they won the MLS Cup. The Galaxy hasn’t had a longer winning streak in 21 seasons.
They’ve played particularly well on defense, surrendering a league-low seven goals (tied with LAFC) on the season; Ibrahimovic has scored that many himself, getting at least one in all five games he’s played this season and scoring in 10 of his last 11 starts dating to mid-September.
“He’s a big old body and he can turn and he can score,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. “He scores all type of goals, whether it be headers, side-footers. You don’t score 500 goals in your career if you’re not pretty good.”
Heath’s team is heading in the other direction. It hasn’t beaten the Galaxy in five tries and will be playing Wednesday without midfielder Jan Gregus and defender Francisco Calvo, who both picked up red cards in the closing minutes of last Friday’s loss to Toronto.
Still, Ibrahimovic warned against taking Minnesota (3-3-1) lightly.
“Now we are winning. We should not relax,” he said. “We need to respect them but still play like ourselves.”
The Galaxy also will be missing two starters. Right back Rolf Feltscher is out for a second consecutive game because of a groin injury and midfielder Romain Alessandrini didn’t make the trip after hurting his left knee in Friday’s win over Houston.
Teenager Julian Araujo is expected to play in Feltscher’s place, while either Ema Boateng or Chris Pontius could replace Alessandrini.