Misery loves company.
Orlando City may be eliminated from MLS playoff contention, but that doesn't mean the Lions have nothing to play for this Sunday against the Philadelphia Union. In addition to gearing for the future and letting Head Coach Jason Kreis get a final reading on his side before what could be an off-season of change, the Lions can also play the role of spoiler.
Philadelphia, which was riding high near the top of the Eastern Conference table for much of the early season, finds itself in a playoff battle as the regular season winds to a close.
The Union currently sit in the sixth and final playoff spot in the East, with matches against the Lions this week and New York Red Bulls -- who are battling for the No. 1 seed -- on Oct. 23. Philly sits three points above seventh-place New England, which will be gunning for the No. 6 spot against a slightly easier schedule that includes last-place Chicago and current No. 4 Montreal Impact in its last two matches.
Not only is Philly battling for inclusion in the postseason, but the Union would also like to improve their standing to earn a theoretically better match-up once they're in. As it stands, Philadelphia will get Toronto FC -- red-hot Jozy Altidore included -- which will be getting a shot of energy via the return of MVP Sebastian Giovinco. The fifth spot is only one point away for Philly, while the No. 4 slot is just two points away. Should the Union be able to leap-frog a spot or even two in its last two games, an elimination match-up against D.C. United or Montreal could await rather than a date with Toronto.
While it's always good to get the kids some burn and evaluation time is valuable for Kreis before he transitions into focus for Year 2 of his reign, successfully playing the role of spoiler is fun. Call it "pride," as Kreis is, or whatever you want, but sports are about schadenfreude. Only one team wins the championship every season, leaving everyone else to bask in the misfortune of others.
Additionally, Orlando City has got to be tired of not beating Philadelphia. Since the Lions joined MLS in 2015, they've lost twice and drawn twice against the Union, which isn't something to be particularly proud of given Philadelphia's standing within the East during that span (finished ninth in '15, currently mid-table).
So, while missing out on the postseason for a second consecutive season hasn't been fun, Orlando may as well have some fun and end the season by ruining it for someone else. It's what sports are about.