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Playoffs? Orlando City Must Pick Up the Pace

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The Mane Land takes a look at the points needed in recent seasons to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and judges Orlando's chances to "defy expectations."

Austin Warren, The Mane Land

Note: This column was written prior to last night's match against Columbus Crew SC.

Let's face it: Orlando City is experiencing some tough times. Last week, using Elo ratings, The Mane Land took a look at Orlando's current run of form. This week, we are looking at what type of form we must have over the next 13 matches to potentially make the playoffs.

Orlando City entered the weekend sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, with 24 points, 1.14 points per game, and with a goal differential of -5. Each of these metrics put Orlando City outside the 'top six' necessary to make the playoffs. They sit eighth in points, tied for seventh in PPG (points per game), and eighth in goal differential. Basically, Orlando is on the outside looking in. Montreal, New England, and -- perhaps -- Columbus are all sitting on the edge of the abyss known as "Watching the Playoffs."

But, Orlando can only control how they perform on the pitch and they must pick up the pace. Take a look at the standings entering the weekend; then, The Mane Land analyzes what that pace has to be.

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF GA GD HG HGD RG RGD
1 D.C. United 38 23 1.65 11 7 5 27 22 5 21 9 6 -4
2 Columbus Crew SC 31 22 1.41 8 7 7 34 33 1 27 11 7 -10
3 New York Red Bulls 29 19 1.53 8 6 5 29 23 6 14 6 15 0
4 Toronto FC 28 19 1.47 8 7 4 31 31 0 10 3 21 -3
5 New England Revolution 28 23 1.22 7 9 7 29 35 -6 16 8 13 -14
6 Montreal Impact 24 18 1.33 7 8 3 25 27 -2 18 9 7 -11
7 New York City FC 24 21 1.14 6 9 6 29 31 -2 20 0 9 -2
8 Orlando City SC 24 21 1.14 6 9 6 26 31 -5 12 -1 14 -4
9 Philadelphia Union 22 22 1 6 12 4 28 37 -9 14 4 14 -13
10 Chicago Fire 19 20 0.95 5 11 4 22 30 -8 14 2 8 -10

Major League Soccer began playing 34-game seasons in 2011. Using the standings from 2011-2014, we have averaged what the potential standings could look like come year's end. So, what does Orlando need to do to battle for the MLS Cup? It's simple really: they have to win.

Orlando will have to average 1.77 points per game over the next 13 matches to be within striking distance of the sixth and final playoff spot, which has averaged 47 points over the past four seasons. When averaging the past eight seasons, the task looks a bit easier, as over those seasons the sixth-place team averaged 43 points, meaning Orlando would only need 19 points from 13 matches, a mere 1.36 points per match. In the venerable words of Dumb and Dumber's Lloyd Christmas -- "So you're telling me there's a chance."

With a desperately needed addition coming at the RM spot, Adrian Winter, and a hopeful upgrade at CB with David Mateos, Orlando may have found some much-needed help that can propel the Lions into the playoffs, especially after St. Ledger's recent release. Let's also keep in mind that the Gold Cup is behind us and previously injured players are coming back into the fold, such as Martin Paterson.

These additions may yet play a pivotal role over the next few months as we hope to see a desperate and driven team fighting every minute for those much needed points. They can lead the club to a playoff birth, something which many fans would call a successful first MLS season.