CARSON, Calif. — In the end, the loss came down to one word: Zlatan.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored two goals, and the Los Angeles Galaxy snapped Real Salt Lake's three-match win streak with a 3-0 win Saturday night at the StubHub Center.
Ola Kamara added a goal for the Galaxy (6-7-2), which had just two wins in their last five matches.
"I never thought this would be the final result," RSL coach Mike Petke said after the match on the KSL TV app. "We were very much in control (early in the match), but we let it slip away.
"We were pushing, but we couldn’t get the goal tonight."
Ibrahimovic has a team-high seven goals since signing with the Galaxy in March. The Swedish soccer giant scored with a putback header after RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando punched away a dangerous cross, and the Galaxy took a 1-0 lead at home in the 60th minute.
Ibrahimovic doubled the advantage just six minutes later, converting another header from Servant Carrasco for his third multi-goal game since signing with Los Angeles in March.
One call (or missed call, from the Real Salt Lake fan’s perspective) could’ve changed the game. And while Petke won't deny a certain ruling by head referee Ted Unkel had a significant impact on the game, he didn't put all the blame on the arbiter, either.
"If we put a goal away in the first half, this game could’ve been a bit different," Petke said. "I think Corey's (Baird's run and subsequent yellow card to LA) could've been a red card, but the excuse we were given was his touch went away from goal.
"Then we got out-manned by a big boy, Ibra."
Kamara added a goal from distance on an assist from Chris Pontius in the 76th minute for LA.
Salt Lake (7-7-1) out-shot the hosts 4-3 in the first half, but each side only put one shot on frame in a scoreless opening 45 minutes.
Corey Baird had a breakaway attempt stopped short of goal by Jorgen Skjelvik, who took a yellow card in the 53rd minute after the last defender trailing for the Galaxy shoved Baird off the ball and prevented the counterattack.
"From what I was seeing, I thought the call would’ve been reviewed. But he’s watching the game from a better vantage point than I am," Baird said after the match, referring to the video-review official at StubHub Center.
"I've just got to trust that it was the right call."
Kyle Beckerman, the longtime RSL captain who won an MLS Cup in 2009, started Saturday night’s match on the bench. Albert Rusnak made his routine to the lineup after playing for Slovakia, and Damir Kreilach and Sunny Stephen slotted into the defensive midfield behind him.
Beckerman's benching was listed as an "injury precaution" after picking up what was described as a minor groin injury in training after the club’s 2-0 loss Wednesday to Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup.
The veteran RSL captain will have two weeks during an international break to recover, as Luis Silva and Pablo Ruiz were the only subs used by Petke.
Saturday was the fourth-straight match for the back line of Danny Acosta, Justen Glad, Marcelo Silva and Brooks Lennon.
Real Salt Lake, like the rest of Major League Soccer, will go on hiatus for much of the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. RSL will host San Jose at 8 p.m. MT June 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium.