LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he will only take a risk playing on artificial turf when it is "life or death."
The Galaxy allowed Ibrahimovic to sit out of last weekend's trip to the Seattle Sounders to avoid playing on the club's FieldTurf and risk injuring the knee that kept him out of action for seven months at Manchester United before he moved to the U.S.
The striker has scored 15 goals in 19 games for the Galaxy but insisted that the risk is too great to play on an artificial surface before the playoffs.
"When I got injured, the judgment was I could not play football," he told ESPN FC. "First of all, when you have an injury like that, in football they haven't seen it ... I came to Pittsburgh, they operated on my knee ... I had my physio who followed me everywhere, and we worked every day for seven, eight months.
"I signed the [new] deal with United, and I asked [Jose] Mourinho, 'Please let me work from distance, because if I work with the club and I see my teammates every day, my will [to play] will be too much that I will hurry with my injury. So let's skip that part.' I trained, I trained very hard, and I was able to play again. I'd proved them wrong, just like I had at the beginning of my career.
"And I continued and I got this opportunity with the Galaxy, and I play -- and why I don't play on turf? Because I'm able to play now, I push it every time I put the shoes on, when I walk on that grass, when I can feel the smell of that grass, when I can touch the ball, when I feel like I can shoot the ball like I want to do it, I'm just happy. And I want to still be happy.
"But by playing on turf, I risk to get damage. I don't say I will get injured -- I don't know; I could get injured also in normal games -- but the consequence is everywhere, the risk is everywhere. The risk is higher on the turf. And I tried to play on the turf in Portland, and I felt very bad."
The only appearance Ibrahimovic has made on artificial turf this season came in a 20-minute stint as a substitute in Portland on June 2. He's also since skipped a game on turf in New England, the MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta and a U.S. Open Cup game in Portland.
The Galaxy have only one more game on turf remaining in the regular season at Minnesota in their second-to-last fixture on Oct. 21.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said after the New England game last month that Ibrahimovic would play on turf in the playoffs, and Ibrahimovic confirmed that he would not sit out when the season is on the line.
"With all the respect for turf, for Portland and the stadium, which was a fantastic atmosphere, if I could play I would play every single second," Ibrahimovic said. "But it's not about that I don't want to play, it's about me -- I don't want to take the risk to get damaged if it's not life or death.
"But if it's the playoff and we go there, I will go there and I will destroy them. If I get injured, f--- it, I get injured. I will take the risk because we are in a different situation."
Six of the 22 MLS teams play on various artificial surfaces: Seattle, Portland, New England, Atlanta, Minnesota and Vancouver.