Minnesota United isn't chasing some magic numbers like the Twins have, but coach Adrian Heath has done the math after his team's crushing 4-3 loss at LA Galaxy on Wednesday.
The Loons fell beneath the nine-team playoff line and have five regular-season games remaining, all against Western Conference foes in the playoff hunt. Now in 10th place, they're one point behind ninth-place Dallas, competing for the West's last playoff spot.
"Everybody is playing each other so they all can't get the number of points people think," Heath said. "Two wins at home and a draw will probably be enough. Now, it might not be, but with teams all playing each other, I think that might be enough."
The Loons blew a 3-1 halftime lead Wednesday night in Carson, Calif., conceding three consecutive goals without star playmaker Emanuel Reynoso, who left the game at halftime because of a thigh injury.
"We're still in a situation where it's in our own hands," Heath said.
The Loons come home Saturday to play first-place St. Louis City. It's the first of three remaining games at Allianz Field, where they're just 3-3-8. Even with Wednesday's loss, the Loons are 6-7-2 on the road.
Heath said a victory at LAFC or Kansas City could change his calculations for the good.
"I don't want to look too much further than tomorrow," Heath said after Friday's training in Blaine. "It's a huge game for us. We can't deny that."
The Loons will play without defender/midfielder Joseph Rosales and perhaps Reynoso.
Rosales injured his hamstring in Wednesday's opening minutes and left the game in the 36th minute.
Heath called Rosales' hamstring "pretty bad" and said he expects the Honduran left-side player to miss a "few weeks."
Heath called Reynoso day-to-day with a thigh injury sustained against Sporting Kansas City last Saturday.
"He thought he was going to get through it," Heath said. "But he has aggravated it a little bit. It's one of them things you can aggravate really easily. We have to be mindful if he were to go now and it was a bad tear of a thigh muscle, the season is probably going to be over for him.
"So it's a risk-reward for us at this moment in time because every game is important for us."
Heath said the team's doctors have provided their opinion and added he'll "have a chat" with Reynoso during the day on Saturday before the game.
Heath said Reynoso's absence wasn't responsible for his team's second-half collapse. Instead, he termed goals allowed in the 63rd, 71st and 82nd minutes "stupid decisions," "schoolboy stuff" and "comical."
Among the bad decisions was first-half substitute Ethan Bristow's second yellow card in the 74th minute for tugging on an opponent's jersey. The ensuing red card ejected him from a game tied at 3-3.
Eight minutes later, Galaxy midfielder Diego Fagúndez scored the winner.
The comical included teammates DJ Taylor and Bongokuhle Hlongwane colliding with each other going to head a ball in midfield. That allowed 37-old-old Englishman Billy Sharp's third goal to complete a hat trick. Sharp has six goals in six MLS games since he arrived in August.
Sharp scored after veteran defender Michael Boxall tried to clear the ball away from the goal to the sideline. It went right into former Loon Raheem Edwards' legs, ricocheted back behind Boxall and went directly to Sharp.
"It's something I've done dozens of times," Boxall said. "Every ball fell to him that night. He must have a gift where the ball is going to end up. Right place, right time."
The Loons did miss Reynoso's skill on the ball.
"When you lose a player who puts so much pressure on the ball and can create so much time and space for each other, that's difficult," Boxall said. "But it should be a moment when other players stand up and put their mark on the game."