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What's LAFC's Magic Number To Clinch A Playoff Spot?

Let's talk magic numbers and the playoffs.

A 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday brought LAFC's points total after 29 matches to 50, making them one of three teams in MLS history to reach the 50-point plateau in its inaugural season. The win also dropped LAFC's magic number to nine after all the matches were completed on Saturday.

What is a magic number? I'm glad you asked.

A team's magic number is the total of aggregate points needed to secure a playoff spot. It's calculated by the maximum number of points teams can achieve from their remaining games. Taking into account that six teams in each conference receive playoff berths, you can determine a team's magic number by how many points they would need to surpass the 7th-placed team's maximum points total.

In this case, that team is the Vancouver Whitecaps. Although they sit one point adrift of the Galaxy, with one less match played, Vancouver's possible maximum points total of 58 heading into the weekend was superior to the Galaxy's possible total.

After Sunday's 2-1 loss to FC Dallas, Vancouver's possible maximum points total dropped from 58 to 55. Which is good news for LAFC, as any points gained by the Black & Gold combine with the points dropped by Vancouver to whittle down LAFC's magic number - magic numbers can be reduced or stay the same, so even if LAFC drops points, Vancouver can't add to LAFC's magic number. 

So with Sunday's results, LAFC's magic number dropped from nine to six. 

LAFC can guarantee a playoff spot by taking three points in Chicago and Colorado, regardless of what Vancouver does (those six points would also bring LAFC level for the highest points total by an expansion team in its inaugural season - the 1998 Chicago Fire currently holds that distinction with 56 points).

So where we stand today, six is the magic number. Six points to secure a playoff spot. Six points to make history.

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