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Galaxy facing Rapids without suspended Ibrahimovic

(Image: Twitter/@lagalaxy)

Los Angeles Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto must turn to plan B against the visiting Colorado Rapids on Sunday with star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended for two matches.

Ibrahimovic tangled with New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 86th minute of the Galaxy’s 2-0 loss on May 11, the third straight defeat for LA (7-4-1, 22 points) — all against Eastern Conference opponents.

After a missed scoring opportunity, Ibrahimovic leaned his head in toward Johnson, knocking the netminder over. Replays also showed Ibrahimovic grabbed Johnson’s neck.

The league announced the sanction Friday, nearly a full week after the incident. Schelotto had sounded hopeful that he would have the services of Ibrahimovic, who has scored nine of LA’s 18 goals this season.

“I don’t know what can happen with him, but I am thinking about winning on the field Sunday,” Schelotto said prior to the ruling. “I think I’ll be a little surprised if I can’t (play) him on Sunday.”

Even without Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy are favored against a winless Rapids side that has lost eight straight and already parted ways with coach Anthony Hudson.

The results have been marginally better in two games under interim coach Conor Casey, with Colorado (0-9-2, two points) dropping both matches by identical 3-2 scores.

Casey will be dealing with his own unexpected suspension, after Diego Rubio’s ban for a red card picked up on May 3 against Vancouver was extended for a second game.

The Rapids’ 30 goals conceded are the most in the Western Conference, an issue Casey feels is based more on lack of communication than lack of talent. It’s something Colorado has worked to improve in practice.

“Part of it is just getting those relationships,” Casey said. “Communicating and solving problems and putting them in situations where they’re seeing the same issues that they’ll see on the weekend.”

REUTERS/Field Level Media

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