Zlatan Ends Another Failed MLS Campaign With Epic Crotch Grab

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn’t decided if he’s coming back to MLS next season, but he left his mark on El Trafico, one we unfortunately can’t scrub from our minds.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been coy over his future in Major League Soccer. This much we know: He’s done for the season after failing to lead the LA Galaxy past LAFC on Thursday night. 

Carlos Vela had two goals and an assist as LAFC beat the Galaxy for the first time ever, 5-3 in the MLS Western Conference semifinals at Banc of California Stadium.

Ibrahimovic had a goal and an assist in what could be his final match in MLS, but said afterword it’s “too early to speak” about his future.

“I have another two months (on my contract),” Ibrahimovic said. "We’ll see what happens.

“(If I stay), then MLS is good, because the whole world will watch it. If I don't stay, nobody will remember what MLS is.”

Gotta love that confidence that the entire league depends on him. Of course, in his mind, he’s right. He won’t give MLS a second thought if he leaves. But there were at least 20,000 fans at the match Thursday who will still be following MLS next season regardless of Zlatan’s intentions.

The sixth El Trafico — the Galaxy had yet to lose one — was an absolute thriller from the opening whistle. Adama Diomandé scored twice and Diego Rossi added another for LAFC, which never trailed. The Galaxy also had goals from Cristian Pavón and Rolf Feltscher. 

Here’s a quick and dirty version of the highlights to get you caught up, in case you fell asleep before the 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff — or were confused by a college football game pushing the match to ESPN2 for much of the first half. 

Despite the goal and assist, Zlatan was unable to impact the match as much as he had in previous clashes with LAFC. The loss marked four straight seasons without a league title (two with Manchester United) after having won 13 league crowns in the 14 seasons prior. Last season, Ibrahimovic couldn’t even get the Galaxy into the playoffs.

After the match, clearly frustrated after having been the target of taunts and jeers from the crowd all match, he did what any Zlatan would do: grabbed his crotch while staring down a fan.

Reporters asked Ibra about the crotch grab after the match.

“How many fans came — 30,000?” Zlatan said, overestimating by about 8,000. “They said something.

“I enjoy it. It gave me adrenaline. This is nothing.”

This is nothing, folks, move along. Like an Astros assistant GM yelling at a group of female reporters, this is just blown out of proportion and we should ignore it. 

Well, maybe not. 

A crotch grab, while humorous in a juvenile way, is a rather evocative gesture and one that’s likely to earn the big Swede at least a fine, possibly a suspension should he decide to return to LA next season.  

Right now, that’s a pretty big if for Ibra’s return. The Zlatan crotch grab suggests he might not return next year, having already been linked with clubs in Europe and South America. 

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As for LAFC, having finally exorcised its crosstown demon, Bob Bradley’s side has less than a week to prepare for a visit from the Seattle Sounders. The MLS Western Conference final will be played on Tuesday, with the winner facing either Atlanta United or Toronto FC in the final on Nov. 10.

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