The Galaxy will welcome leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from a two-game suspension Wednesday in Kansas City but they’ll be without three starting defenders and might not be able to count on a full game from midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, who limped away from the team’s two most recent games complaining of a sore hip.
And if that wasn’t enough bad news, the team’s 2-hour 45-minute flight to Kansas City, which was delayed an hour Tuesday, was eventually diverted to St. Louis because of tornadoes near the airport. The team was scheduled to spend the night in St. Louis before heading to Kansas City on Wednesday.
Dos Santos scored the only goal in last week’s win over Orlando City, helping the Galaxy snap a four-game losing streak that matched the team’s longest in two seasons, but he said he struggled with his hip in the late stages of the game. Dos Santos had to come off in the final minutes of the Galaxy’s previous game with the same problem.
“My body gets tired faster because I don’t have the complete mobility. But, I suffer with that pain,” he said. “Almost every year I experience some pain in my hip.”
Dos Santos trained with the team Monday and flew Tuesday to St. Louis, with coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto saying there are no restrictions on how the midfielder will be used. However, with the Galaxy playing for the second time in five days and facing another game at home Sunday, the staff is likely to monitor him closely just the same.
Out is right back Rolf Feltscher, who sustained a leg injury in training this week, and center back Diego Polenta, who missed the Orlando game because of an ankle injury and did not travel to Kansas City either. Another outside back, teenager Julian Araujo, is in Poland playing for the U.S. in the U-20 World Cup.
Kansas City will be missing forward Krisztián Németh, who is tied for the team lead with seven goals, after the MLS disciplinary committee Tuesday suspended him a second game for “serious foul play” during Sporting’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 18.
Ibrahimovic, who was suspended two games for “violent conduct” after grabbing New York City goalkeeper Sean Johnson by the neck and wrestling him to the ground, will be back. The Galaxy scored only once in two games without their captain and took just four shots in the win over Orlando City.
A win Wednesday would vault the Galaxy (8-5-1) over Seattle and into second place in the Western Conference standings behind LAFC. It would also give the team its first two-game winning streak in more than a month.
It won’t be an easy task, though, since the Galaxy haven’t beaten Sporting Kansas City on the road since 2007, when the team was called the Wizards and played across the state line in Missouri, not Kansas.
Sporting, a playoff team each of the last eight seasons, beat Seattle on Sunday for its first win since March. At 3-4-5, the team is 11th in the 12-team conference it led last season.