Two months and two weeks -- that's all that remains of Orlando City's inaugural MLS season. Now this isn't to say the club won't make the playoffs, but if the Lions still mean to make the top six in the Eastern Conference, then the next 11 games are going to be what defines the season.
Out of Orlando's 11 remaining games in the regular season, including tonight's match against the Philadelphia Union, only five are at home. Out of those five, four of the opponents are from the Eastern Conference and three of them -- the Union, Chicago Fire and New York City FC -- currently sit below Orlando in the table. Needless to say, all of these home games must-wins for the team. Having the home field advantage was an issue early on in the year, but the Lions have been pulling out favorable results at home recently. This will be key for the playoff push, especially since the difference between second and seventh is only six points.
This means that six of the final games will be on the road. After tonight's game, Orlando heads to the opposite side of the country to face the Seattle Sounders next Sunday and then goes right back to Toronto to face Giovinco and company for the third time the Saturday after that. Just three days after Toronto, Orlando City flies to Louisville to play in a friendly against its USL affiliate club at Slugger Field, and then the Lions are finally back home that following Saturday to take on Chicago.
This month of August will be the last hectic month that Orlando will have, thankfully. Starting in September, there will be no more weekday games and no more friendlies -- just seven more regular season weekend games, three of which will be at the Citrus Bowl.
The last home game for Orlando will be, just as the season began, against the other expansion club, NYCFC, while the final regular season game will be against current last-place Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. At the rate that the season is going and how the standings are currently, Orlando's playoff push could very well come down to these two games. If the Lions can win at least four out of their last 11 games and draw two or three, it should put them in the playoffs.
Luckily for the club, most of their games from here on in are against teams outside of the top 10 in MLS. Only four remaining opponents can boast that about themselves. This gives the Lions seven games that they absolutely must get a result in and I'm sure the coaching staff know this as well. Now it's just a matter of getting out there and turning the tides of Wednesday's game around, starting with tonight's game against the Union.