The end is nigh. Orlando City's first season in MLS may come to an end this weekend. There is a small chance now that Orlando could move forward into the playoffs with a big win at Philadelphia Union, coupled with New England having a big loss at New York City FC. The chances of this happening though are very slim.
What needs to take place on Sunday is basically an eight-goal swing in Orlando's favor. The Lions currently sit at -9 in goal differential, while New England sits at -1. So, if Orlando wins 4-0 (or better) and New England loses 4-0 (or worse), then we could see ourselves in the playoffs.
How many of those games have happened this year? What is the chance that two of those games will occur on the same weekend? Let's look at the chance of this happening by taking a look at all the games played in MLS this year and how many of those had a single team score at least four or more goals in a single match. Also, we looked at games in which teams won by four or more goals -- this would need to happen for Orlando to move on. The scenario being Orlando wins by four or more goals and New England loses by four or more, or a combination that equates.
With one pivotal game remaining, Orlando has played through 33 matches so far this year and unfortunately the Lions have scored four or more goals in a game only three times, and only one of those matches saw them win by four or more goals (Orlando City 4 - 0 LA Galaxy, on May 17). This doesn't look very promising when you consider that Orlando would not only need to score at least four or more, but they would need to do so while winning by the largest margin. Through probability that (P=P(A)/P(B)), we can see that Orlando has a 9% chance to score four or more goals as they have done that three times out of 33 games, but their chances to win by four or more are much slimmer -- 3%, as this has only occurred once this year for Orlando.
When you look across the league, though, you can get a more complete picture. The league as a whole has played 658 matches in MLS play this year, and in those matches teams have scored four or more goals 37 times, while winning by four or more in 13 separate matches. The chances in MLS this year to score or have someone score four or more goals against you is at 5.6%, while the chances a team wins by four or more is at a paltry 1.98%. That does not look very promising when the two events that we need to happen are independent of each other.
When two events, A and B, are both independent, the probability of them occurring is:
P(A and B) = P(A) * P(B)
Using this model, we can show that the chances for Orlando to score four or more and have New England's opponent score four or more goals this coming weekend is:
P(.5%) = Probability Orlando scores four or more (.09) * Probability New England's opponent scores four or more (.056).
So, just to have both of these teams score at least four goals in both games looks to be unlikely. Well, how about both teams winning by four goals:
P(.057%) = Probability Orlando wins by 4 or more(.0303) * Probability New England loses by 4 or more (.0197).
Maybe this is depressing, knowing that either way we have less than a 1% chance to not only have both games score the amount of goals needed for Orlando to make up the goal differential, but have an even slimmer chance to have those goals be scored by the respective teams that need them. But, there is a wonderful quote out there that can give us all a glimmer of hope, from the movie Dumb and Dumber:
Lloyd Christmas: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary Swanson: Not good.
Lloyd Christmas: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary Swanson: I'd say more like one out of a million.
Lloyd Christmas: So you're telling me there's a chance... YEAH!
Let's go Orlando!