Two impressive streaks came to an end for the Galaxy on Wednesday.
The team’s five-game winning streak, the longest in MLS, is done as is Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s five-game goal-scoring streak, also longest in the league.
But the Galaxy kept another streak going, extending their unbeaten skein to six games by battling Minnesota United to a 0-0 draw on a rough, rain-soaked field at Allianz Field.
However in the locker room afterward, the point they won felt more like a consolation prize, one they accepted but didn’t necessarily earn.
“If the opponent was better, yes. But I didn’t see the opponent as being good,” said a frustrated Ibrahimovic. “I see it more that we lost two points.”
Goalkeeper David Bingham, who picked up his third shutout in four games and lowered his goals-against average to 0.88, third-best in MLS, agreed.
“We got a shutout and that was one goal. But the main goal was to get three points,” he said. “At the end of the day we feel like we dropped two points here. We played very poorly and we know that.”
Minnesota (3-3-2) worked to neutralize Ibrahimovic, who scored seven times in his first five games, by using a high defensive line, surrounding him with three defenders and collapsing on him every time he got the ball.
As a result Ibrahimovic took a season-low three shots, only one of them on target.
“It became easy for them because I didn’t really have chances,” he said.
Neither did anyone else with the Galaxy taking only 10 shots as a team, also a season low.
Ibrahimovic’s most promising try came in the first half, when he nodded a header just wide of the right post. In the second half he one-hopped a shot toward the center of the goal that proved an easy save for Minnesota keeper Vito Mannone.
And that was pretty much the extent of the Galaxy offense despite the fact they dominated possession and completed 84% of their 499 passes.
After the game, in another sign of respect, Minnesota midfielder Rasmus Schuller padded over to the Galaxy dressing room hoping to swap his sweat-soaked jersey for Ibrahimovic’s. After a long wait, a team employee came out and handed over a dark-blue Galaxy shirt.
“One point is better than zero,” a disappointed Ibrahimovic said. “Sometimes it doesn’t go your way.”
The Galaxy were also bothered by the patchy field at Allianz Field, which opened earlier this month. Huge pieces of grass came up at times and conditions worsened midway through the second half when a heavy rain began to fall.
“The field was terrible,” Bingham said. “It was one of the worst grass fields we’ve played on in a long time. But we have to do better.”
Minnesota’s only shot on goal came in the 60th minute when a Galaxy turnover deep in their own end launched the Loons on a 3-on-1 break. But midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, hustling after the play, ran down Minnesota’s Osvaldo Alonso and when Alonso pushed the ball ahead for Angelo Rodriguez in the penalty area, Dos Santos slid in to break up the shot, taking a knee to the head for his troubles but making Bingham’s only save of the night a little easier.
Minutes later the Galaxy (6-1-1) suffered their biggest loss of the night when teenage defender Julian Araujo, who played a brilliant game in his second MLS start, limped off the field between two trainers, favoring his right ankle.
Araujo left the stadium on crutches but coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, whose team is already missing two starters to injury in defender Rolf Feltscher (groin) and midfielder Romain Alessandrini (left knee), said he thinks the 17-year-old will be able to play Sunday in the Galaxy’s third game in 10 days.
“If we win Sunday against Salt Lake, I will be very happy with this point,” Schelotto said. “But we didn’t play like we can play. I need to know why.”