After picking up just one point in July and five points in August, Orlando City's season should've been over long ago. However, the teams that the Lions are contending with for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference continue to drop points, keeping them alive.
Over the past two months, several teams have had the opportunity to separate themselves from the others as the bottom five teams vie for the East's final playoff spot. But none of the five teams have been able to string together wins to capture the sixth position.
Back in June, Orlando City looked to be in the perfect position to clinch that sixth spot by separating themselves from the teams below them. Starting with their 4-0 drubbing of the LA Galaxy on May 17, the team gained points in seven of eight games and looked to be on their way to being just the third expansion team in league history to reach the postseason. But that's when the struggles started.
The Lions would go on to lose their remaining three league games in July before picking up just one win in August.
With a streak of futility like Orlando City has had over the past two months, it would be safe to assume that the team's chances of making the playoffs would be gone. However, the other four teams have been nearly as poor as the Lions -- also dropping points nearly every week.
On Sunday evening, Orlando City defeated Sporting Kansas City at the Citrus Bowl by a score of 3-1. This came just a day after the other four teams in contention for that final spot dropped points. The win gives the Lions 32 points and places them even with Montreal for the final playoff spot, only down on goal difference.
As important as the three points are in terms of the standings, they're also important because of when they came. The Lions have been unable to pick up points when there's been optimism within the fan base due to the other four contending teams' struggles, adding more pessimism to the fan base and likely within the team itself.
Over the past two months, there's been a feeling that when there was an opportunity to put themselves in a position to reach the postseason, the Lions would squander that chance. But after this win -- over one of the best teams in the league -- Orlando City fans can have true optimism going forward about making the postseason.
Generally, you would look at the games in hand of some of the opposition and say that Orlando City was still at a disadvantage to make the postseason. But the failure of these teams to pick up points gives the Lions more hope than usual.
Orlando City still has five games remaining and four of those games are against each of the teams they are competing against for the final playoff spot -- Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia, and New York City FC. After Sunday night's win, there's more optimism than prior to the game that the Lions can gain three points in those games and become the third expansion team in MLS history to reach the postseason.