If the Loons make the MLS playoffs, they probably won't back into them in a Western Conference where the pursuers just won't lose.
But they might just back-heel their way there.
The Loons rode their resolve, star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso's inexplicable vision and the back of one of his heels to Wednesday's 3-2 comeback victory over Philadelphia at Allianz Field.
Reynoso's used that heel to set up two of his team's three goals with passes, including the tying goal when the Loons scored twice in four minutes of the second half.
They did so as Reynoso and fellow creators Franco Fragapane and Adrien Hunou seemingly get better together by the game.
The victory — combined with Vancouver's late-night comeback win over Portland — moves the Loons from seventh place and the West's last playoff spot into sixth place. That's two points behind fourth-place Portland and a home playoff game. It's also two points ahead of eighth place Real Salt Lake and out of the playoffs altogether.
"I said last week it's going to go to the last weekend," said Loons coach Adrian Heath, whose team has four games left.
Leading 1-0 late in the first half and trailing 2-1 early in the second, the Loons went from trailing 2-1 to a 3-2 lead they never lost again, not even when they played the final 13-plus minutes down a man.
"He kicks it as many times with the back of his heel as he does the front," Heath said of Reynoso.
He assisted on Hunou's 41st-minute goal with a back-heel pass to Fragapane, who in turn slipped the ball behind two defenders. Hunou took it on a full run and scored shortside past Union keeper Andre Blake. It was Hunou's sixth goal since he left France's first division for MLS in April.
"[Reynoso's] just got incredible vision and awareness of what's going on around him," Heath said. "I've got to say I wish I was playing in front of Rey at times. Some of his quality is exceptional. I think he might be the best player in the league as [of] this moment, I really do."
After Hungarian midfielder Daniel Gazdag scored not once but twice for Philadelphia, Reynoso swerved with the ball around a defender, then back-heeled yet another pass. This one second-half sub Robin Lod buried high in the goal just four minutes after he entered the game.
"Definitely not 11 aside," Loons teammate Hassani Dotson said about others attempting such a pass. "That's something we save just for kickaround and street soccer. But he's got great vision and he just knows when the defender is going to press him."
Four minutes after Reynoso recorded that second assist, Fragapane headed a Hunou shot that Blake blocked — but couldn't control — into an open net and the Loons had a 3-2 lead. And that was all they needed.
Even after veteran defender Romain Metanire was ejected in the 77thminute after he lost his composure and his temper. The Loons played the game out with just 10 men without giving up the equalizer.
Metanire threw the ball in the face of Philadelphia defender Kai Wagner after Wagner had fouled him hard. Metanire received a red card and automatic ejection. He'll also miss Saturday's crucial game against eighth-place LAFC.
"Disappointing," Heath said. "Disappointing for Romain because he has been playing really, really well for us as well. But hey, we have to get on with it. That's football. You can't lose discipline and if you do, generally that's what happens. It's as disappointing for the player as anybody."
Heath praised what he called several "outstanding" performances. He called Reynoso "incredible at times," suggested Fragapane had "probably his best game for us" and added, "I thought Adrien Hunou looked like the player we know is in there."
Heath also sounded vindicated after his team allowed three unanswered goals and lost a game 10 days earlier after the Loons played with a man advantage for 35-plus minutes against Colorado.
"The doom and gloom that was around here when we got beat by Colorado, you'd have thought the season was over," Heath said. "That's not just externally. That's internally as well. It's just a reminder it's never over. As soon as you've got a game, you can change the narrative and that's what the players have done these last two games."