Playoff Race: Galaxy's Ibrahimovic is thriving under pressure

However bad it has been at times this season -- and a few times it has been really bad -- the LA Galaxy is not out of contention for the 2018 MLS playoffs.

Less than four weeks after Sigi Schmid stepped down as head coach, the Galaxy has a winning record of 12-11-8 and finds itself only two points behind sixth-place Real Salt Lake. Just four points separate the Galaxy and fourth-place Timbers.

The Galaxy has won its last two MLS games, 3-0, building momentum after a late summer swoon -- four losses and three ties -- going into its final three games, the toughest of which will be at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

It isn't win or go home for the Galaxy on Saturday, but it treated the last two games that way and is not about to change its approach.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has three goals and an assist in the last two games, credits captain Ashley Cole for stressing what is at stake in his pre-game talk to the team.

“He says to everybody," said Ibrahimovic, "'Guys, you know what it's all about. We don't win today, it's over.' To put pressure like that is a balance. Either you can handle it or you cannot. And he did two times and we won both games, 3-0. And that is a lot of pressure."

Ibrahimovic says he thrives under pressure.

“That, for me, is a good sign," he said, "because I like to give pressure to the other ones. And I like to have the pressure. Because the feeling when you walk out from the stadium and you win, like we have done, the feeling is better. You come home and you feel good, you feel better, so the pressure should tease you. That is a signal you should go up on your toes and do something good.”

Western Conference Playoff Race:
4. Portland, 48 points (13-9-9).
Remaining games (3): 10/6:  at RSL; 10/21:  RSL; 10/28: at VAN.
5. Seattle, 47 points (14-11-5).
Remaining games (4): 10/8:  HOU; 10/17: at ORL; 10/21: at HOU; 10/28:  SJ.
6. Real Salt Lake, 46 points (13-11-7).
Remaining games (3): 10/6:  POR; 10/18: NE; 10/21:  at POR.
7. LA Galaxy, 44 points (12-11-8).
Remaining games (3): 10/6: at SKC; 10/21 at MNU; 10/28 HOU.
8. Vancouver, 40 points (11-12-7).
Remaining games (4): 10/6: at TOR; 10/17: SKC; 10/21 at LAFC; 10/28 POR.

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