Zlatanmania has firmly taken hold in North America. Over the past year the Swedish superstar has firmly taken the mantle as the top superstar in Major League Soccer, making incredible plays on the pitch and breaking through the soccer glass ceiling into mainstream media off of it.
Here are our top ten favorite moments from the Zlatan era of Major League Soccer.
10.) The full page spread.
Those wondering if Zlatan would be a Beckham or a Gerrard with the Los Angeles Galaxy were given a resounding answer before his first-ever match. Just days before his first match he put out a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times telling the fans simply “You’re welcome.” And with that the era of Zlatan had begun.
9.) Conquering the turf.
One of the big questions when Zlatan entered MLS is whether he would play on turf, which has been a sore spot for many top-level players in the past. He answered that with a resounding yes, scoring a goal and assisting on a second in L.A. victory over Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field.
8.) Zlatan 2.0
There was some speculation as to whether Zlatan would come back for a second season in Los Angeles, with his former club AC Milan making overtures to the Big Swede. But Ibra opted to stay in the City of Angels under a Designated Player deal. So what was his motivation? In his own words he stated that he had “unfinished business” and that he wanted to “break every record in MLS.”
7.) Can he floss?
On The Late, Late Show with James Corden the host asked Zlatan if he can do The Floss dance. He didn’t disappoint, pulling off the moves popularized by The BackPack Kid on Saturday Night Live.
6.) Taming the Purple Lions
In his first season with the Galaxy it often times felt like it was Zlatan versus the World. Case in point: the Galaxy’s 4-3 win over Orlando City SC last June. Despite Orlando’s best efforts at breaking the Galaxy, they couldn’t break Zlatan who scored a hat trick to counter-punch every Orland attempted knockout blow. His one-man attacking show (assisted by a Giovani goal in the 39th minute) helped effectively answer any remaining questions about his ambitions in MLS.
5.) Mr. 500 with a roundhouse kick
Getting to 500 goals is difficult enough as it is. But doing so with a roundhouse kick is even more of a challenge. But as has been proven time and time again Zlatan can make the impossible look pedestrian. He earned his milestone goal last season in incredible fashion whipping a shot past a shocked Toronto FC defense to put him in the pantheon of the great goalscorers.
4.) Zlatan versus Sean Johnson and…VAR?
In a match last year against New York City FC Zlatan got into a tussle with goalkeeper Sean Johnson choking the player and starting a tussle between the two. After the match the two continued the war of words with Johnson accusing Ibra of being frustrated for his lack of attacking chances. Zlatan denied the charges and blamed the referee for not using VAR to overturn a yellow card. “I touched the ball that’s the only thing I know. I didn’t touch him. If I touched him, he kicked me,” he said. “But he didn’t want to review it. Again, we have this VAR. I think we should take it off and not play with it.”
3.) “You’re with me now.”
Ask any young player about the experience about serving as a player escort for a professional game and they will tell you that it is both exciting but also incredibly nerve wrecking. In a home game last year against the Houston Dynamo a young player had the chance to walk out with Zlatan on the field. After learning that the player was nervous to walk out on to the pitch he offered some words of wisdom saying, “Impossible. You’re with me now. Just enjoy the moment. Enjoy.”
2.) “Hello this is Zlatan.”
After a tough season many Galaxy supporters faced a tough decision as to whether they would renew their season tickets. Some of those that chose to re-up were rewarded with a personal call from a certain number nine, personally thanking them for sticking with the side.
- Riding a bike through El Traffico
Want to make an immediate impression on skeptical supporters? Score a wonder goal in a derby match. Less than 48 hours after joining the Galaxy Zlatan showed why he was worth the hype and hyperbole scoring twice in the first El Trafico derby match against Los Angeles FC. His second goal was a work of art nailing a bicycle kick from distance and setting the tone for would be a wild ride for in LA.