After LAFC’s victory, how probable is it that they can overtake ninth position in the Lionel Messi and Inter Miami MLS playoff chase?

We were given a taste of Lionel Messi during League Cup action, where the Argentine great guided Inter Miami to the championship while scoring 10 goals and providing one assist. Now that it’s getting down to the wire, he must now guide them against all odds to a playoff berth. After defeating Los Angeles FC, the Herons’ situation is looking better, but they’ll need to maintain their hot streak because they now trail D.C. United by eight points going into a home game against Sporting Kansas City. With their current performance, the team can still move up into a playoff berth, and nothing seems impossible for them.

Miami will need to score as many points as they can, but they’ll also need support from the teams surrounding them because they don’t have any influence over their own fate. The other team players will be crucial because Tata Martino might be absent a significant chunk of the roster while playing Sporting Kansas City and Charlotte FC twice in September and October due to international breaks.

Messi, Robert Taylor, and Josef Martinez will all be with their respective countries, and Serhiy Kryvtsov has already been called up by Ukraine. Martino will have to fill roster gaps for Miami even if Drake Callender and Benjamin Creamashi have been called up to the United States men’s national team. It will be simpler to do so thanks to the recent additions of Diego Gomez, Tomas Aviles, and Facundo Farias, but everyone will need to pitch in to weather the storm.

The average line for ninth place over the previous three seasons was 43.3 points. Although it’s a small sample size because Nashville flips conferences every year and expansion clubs are being introduced left and right, it at least gives Miami a benchmark for what they need to do to have a chance. They need to score two points each game on average to reach that line given their current point total of 25, so let’s see if the remaining schedule makes that achievable.

Miami’s current position in the standings
Total points: 25
Record: 7-4-14
Eastern Conference position: 14th
Games remaining: 9

If my crystal ball is correct, Miami would have 47 points, missing the playoffs before their expansion to let the eighth and ninth teams in, but they could be on track for a spot this season and, if they win the play-in round, could be a nightmare for the conference’s top seed. It’s also crucial to remember that in Major League Soccer (MLS), the number of victories, not goal differential, determines ties. In this regard, Miami may have a significant edge over the clubs ahead of them in the standings because they haven’t drawn as many games this year.

The projections’ margins are tight since they not only use a limited sample size, but also fail to account for the fact that ninth place now comes with a greater incentive than in previous years. Miami still has a long way to go in the league, but thanks to Messi, the Herons have already made history and can’t be written off just yet. Even the defending MLS champion team has not yet been able to stop them.