So, I have to be honest with you fine folks. I was doing fun Labor Day Weekend things and didn’t really pay close attention to Austin FC’s game at Nashville. But scrolling Twitter the next day, it seems that the Verde fan-base is in this mode:
To which I would like to say, once again, CALM. THE. FUCK. DOWN.
Travel McTravelFace has done a tremendous job keeping us updated on Austin FC’s magic number for different scenarios, but today I want to pay attention to one thing, and that’s 2nd place. The Supporters’ Shield dream is dead. Time to move on. However home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs is very much in play. So how do we get there?
The Standings & The Math
As you can see, Austin FC is now just five points clear of FC Dallas for 2nd place. However, there’s really only one thing you need to pay attention to: maximum possible points. Every MLS team plays 34 regular season contests. So to calculate max possible points, simply use this formula:
(34 – Matches played) x 3 + current point total = maximum possible points.
For example, FC Dallas has played 30 games and is currently sitting on 46 points. Using the formula:
(34-30) x 3 + 46 = 58 maximum possible points
Now that we have the formula, what are the maximum possible points for 2nd – 7th place teams?
Austin FC = 66
FC Dallas = 58
Nashville SC = 57
Minnesota United = 59
Real Salt Lake = 57
Portland Timbers = 54
When breaking it down this way, we can see exactly what Austin needs to do to guarantee the 2nd seed, which is to find 9 more points in the final 5 games. That would give ATXFC 60 and secure 2nd no matter what anyone else does in the league. Of course, it’s highly likely that none of these teams actually wins out, meaning that the final point totals will be below these maximums, making Austin’s job even easier to qualify for 2nd.
Here are the final five games for Austin FC:
vs Real Salt Lake
Three games come against teams likely staying home for the playoffs. Austin also has three games at Q2 Stadium during this final month of the season. Finding 9 points out of this stretch should be the bare minimum expectation and I don’t see many reasons why ATXFC would fall short. Some combination of 3 wins or 2 wins & 3 draws gets the Verde & Black over the line.
Forget about what everyone else in the league is doing on focus on Austin. Thanks to banking a lot of points in the spring and summer, ATXFC has earned the right to control their own destiny for the final five games. And the task isn’t Mount Everest in size. It’s barely Mount Bonnell.
My advice: relax, see how the team gels with Emiliano Rigoni as a full-time piece of the lineup, and enjoy the last few games. The real stress comes in October.