Two first half goals by superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic carried the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-0 win over the Union on Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.
The Union started the game aiming to jam Ibrahimovic and the rest of the Galaxy’s many potent attackers. Marco Fabián started as a withdrawn forward instead of in midfield, and Jamiro Monteiro made his first start after two appearances as a substitute.
But the plan went out the widnow when Fabián suffered a left ankle injury after taking a shot in the 18th minute. He tried to play through it, but had to leave the game in the 23rd. Fafa Picault replaced him.
“It looked like his plant foot kind of gave out on him and rolled a little bit." Union manager Jim Curtin said. "I don’t think it is too significant. ... Hopefully it is a quick healing process, but we’ll get a test soon.”
On Sunday morning, Univision posted footage on its website of Fabián walking down a tunnel at the stadium with crutches, and a small boot on his left foot.
As for the rest of the game, the Galaxy opened the scoring in the 28th, and it surprised no one that Ibrahimovic did the honors. Jørgen Skjelvik served up a cross from the left side, and Ibrahimovic outmuscled Auston Trusty to deliver a trademark leaping header.
Ibrahimovic doubled the lead in the 33rd from the penalty spot after Trusty was judged to have fouled the big striker contesting another cross.
The video review booth took a long look at the incident, as replays showed Ibrahimovic pushed off Trusty on the way up. Gantar went to a sideline monitor to watch it again himself. But the call stood, in part because those same replays showed Kai Wagner undercutting Ibrahimovic on his way back to Earth. Ibrahimovic duly stepped up and smashed his shot past Andre Blake.
Los Angeles ended the half with 61 percent of the possession, though only a 5-4 advantage in shots.
Cory Burke got the ball in the Galaxy’s net in the 50th minute, but the offside flag was up. Alejandro Bedoya hit the crossbar in the 54th after a few half-chances from close range, then narrowly missed wide right with an 18-yard rocket in the 68th.
Right after that, Ilsinho replaced Ray Gaddis, and the Union shifted to the three-back formation that sparked their comeback win over FC Dallas last weekend.
But there was no comeback this time, in part because Auston Trusty was sent off in the 76th minute for getting a second yellow card. He had been booked for the first time in the 47th, and he could have little argument about the second - a rash charge into Sebastian Lletget.
Trusty will miss next Saturday’s home game against the Montreal Impact, ending his consecutive games played streak at 41. That is every contest of his tenure in MLS so far, and this game was the first of them in which he didn’t play all 90 minutes.
Mark McKenzie made his season debut after Trusty exited, replacing Brenden Aaronson. McKenzie will likely take Trusty’s spot in the lineup against Montreal.
Sky Blue FC lost its season opener, 2-0, at the Washington Spirit on Saturday night.
U.S. national team star Mallory Pugh set up both goals. In the 59th minute, she delivered a corner kick that Samantha Staab finished amid a scramble in the 18-yard box. Then, in the 88th, Pugh fired an inch-perfect cross that Megan Crosson headed in.
Sky Blue’s home opener is Saturday at 6 p.m. against the Houston Dash at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field.