Since, some of you have started following this series after the first post, there were multiple requests to explain what a magic number is, so I’ll kick into that before gushing about our 4-1 thrashing of LAFC.
The magic number is the number of points we need to gain to be one point higher than another team’s maximum points potential. For example, the playoff clinching number this week is down to 4, which is Seattle’s number. The maximum points that Sounders can get this season is 54 (assuming they win every game from now on). In order for us to be mathematically assured of beating them we would therefore need 55 points, which gives the magic number of 4 points that we need to add to our current 51 points. Every time Seattle loses, their theoretical maximum lowers by 3 points (and if they draw it drops by 2 points), as does our magic number. When we win, the magic number also decreases because we’re that much closer to their maximum. Every matchday when we both play once, there’s a potential for the magic number to drop by 6 points. (h/t Timon A)
For LAFC (even after Friday’s win), we choose to put the number of points they need to eliminate us since it is smaller than the number of points we need to beat them.
|Sporting Kansas City||ELIMINATED from finishing above Austin FC|
|Houston Dynamo||ELIMINATED from finishing above Austin FC|
|San Jose Earthquakes||ELIMINATED from finishing above Austin FC|
|Portland Timbers||3 (Austin has clinched the wins tiebreaker over Portland)|
|Seattle Sounders||4 Clinch Playoff Birth|
|FC Dallas (Frisco)||8|
|Real Salt Lake||10 Clinch Home Playoff Match|
|LA Galaxy||11 Clinch US Open Cup Bye|
|Minnesota United||15 Clinch 2 Seed (Potential Second Home Playoff Match)|
|LAFC||Needs 16 points to eliminate us|
With the dominating 4-1 win over LAFC, Austin FC made significant progress towards clinching a playoff spot along with getting help from losses from Vancouver, Colorado, and Seattle.
In reflection, it is frankly absurd that we have a solid chance to clinch a playoff spot on Wednesday night in only Matchday 28 with a win plus a Seattle draw or loss in Orlando. At the beginning of the season, most of us would have been thrilled to just make the playoffs, much less be in a commanding position to clinch the second seed in the West. Last year’s first home match against Portland was a historic one with the first win ever at McKalla. A potential playoff clinching win on Wednesday night would be an outstanding next chapter in this series. Even a draw with a Seattle loss and a Colorado loss in Nashville would effectively qualify us for the playoffs as Vancouver would need to flip a 39 goal difference in 6 matches.
We will have a midweek update after the 11 matches on Wednesday out by Thursday morning. Even if we clinch a playoff spot on Wednesday, we’ll continue this series each matchday until our seed is confirmed, and then maybe we’ll start a series to confirm our opponents.