One of the leading storylines entering the MLS All-Star Game was Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting the chance to go up against one of his former teams, Juventus.
Well, so much for that.
Ibrahimovic has pulled out of Wednesday's match in Atlanta over concerns regarding travel and schedule congestion, the LA Galaxy announced late Sunday night, following Ibrahimovic's first hat trick for the club.
"Due to three matches in a week and the travel involved, Ibrahimovic will remain in Los Angeles," the Galaxy wrote in a statement. Minnesota United's Darwin Quintero has been announced as a replacement, while New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams will replace the hobbled David Villa in a separate swap.
MLS implemented a rule trying to prevent non-injured players from skipping the All-Star Game by threatening a one-game suspension for those who do, and Ibrahimovic has incurred that punishment. He'll miss Saturday's match against the Colorado Rapids as a result of his actions.
“I am disappointed to miss the 2018 All-Star game against Juventus, one of my former clubs,” Ibrahimovic said in a statement. “I want to thank the fans for voting me to the team. My main focus is to score goals and help the LA Galaxy to the playoffs.”
Ibrahimovic, who played for Juventus from 2004-2006 and also spent time in Serie A with Inter Milan and AC Milan, was going to be one of the top attractions in Atlanta for what is expected to be a capacity crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He has scored 15 goals and assisted on six more in his 17 MLS matches, but he'll have some time off now, while his MLS counterparts take on the Cristiano Ronaldo-less Italian champions.
The match will still feature another former Juventus player in Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, while Josef Martinez, who used to play for Juventus's rival, Torino, will also suit up in front of his home crowd. LAFC's Carlos Vela will captain MLS's team, which now includes:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
Defenders: Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Laurent Ciman (LAFC), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Jonathan Dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Alexander Ring (New York City FC), Ilie Sanchez (Sporting Kansas City), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), Yoshimar Yotún (Orlando City SC), Wilfried Zahibo (New England Revolution)
Forwards: Giovani Dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Josef Martinez (Atlanta United), Darwin Quintero (Minnesota United), Carlos Vela (LAFC), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)