Matt Besler kicking - Sporting KC vs. Minnesota United FC - Aug. 22, 2019

Sporting Sounds: Matt Besler talks must-win matches and Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler didn’t sugarcoat anything during his customary appearance on Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning. In a discussion with Border Patrol hosts Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John, Besler said his team will approach the final five matches of the 2019 MLS regular season with a must-win mindset.

“It’s pretty simple and we don’t have a choice: we have to win games,” Besler said. “The odds probably aren’t great, but it’s been done before. We have five games left and we need to go out and try and win the majority of them—if not all of them. That’s what our mentality has to be, but you don’t win five games in a row by thinking about winning all five. You do it by thinking about winning one game. I know that’s cliché, but that’s really what we have to do, and it starts on Sunday against the LA Galaxy.”

After a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Sporting are now six points outside of playoff positioning. Occupying ninth place with 37 points, Manager Peter Vermes’ men will likely need at least 12 points from their last five fixtures. The first of which comes Sunday night against the eighth-place LA Galaxy (42 points) at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. CT with live coverage on FS1, FOX Deportes, the FOX Sports app, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.

Among the numerous challenges posed by LA, maybe the largest comes in the form of superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker is tied for second in MLS with 23 goals, including one in LA’s 2-0 road win over Sporting in May.

“Now that I’ve gone up against him a few times, I’m confident to say he’s still one of the best goal scorers in the world,” Besler said of Ibrahimovic. “Everybody knows his qualities and his talent, but he’s still got it, man. Zlatan scores goals and he’s competitive about it, and he’s really the main focal point of the Galaxy.”

Like Sporting, the Galaxy currently sit on the wrong side of the playoff line but have the opportunity to jump from eighth to as high as fourth if they beat the Rapids on Wednesday in Colorado. LA also recently acquired 23-year-old Argentine international Cristian Pavon, who has added yet another dimension to an already dangerous squad.

“When another guy like Pavon is on the field in proximity to Zlatan, you can’t put all your attention on one person,” Besler said. “That in itself will make Zlatan more effective and Pavon more effective. They’ve really been a good tandem.”

Listen to the full podcast below.

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