For a second consecutive year, Orlando City will fail to make the postseason in Major League Soccer, but that’s not stopping the club and its players from chasing wins in the final two games of the regular season.
The Lions will travel to Philadelphia this weekend for their third and final meeting of the season with the Union — the second in Philly this year — and, while expectations are considerably low for an Orlando City side that has struggled mightily over the last month of the season, the team is not counting itself out.
“The approach is to win the game,” midfielder Servando Carrasco said at Orlando City’s training session on Wednesday. “Just because we’re out of the playoffs doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop trying. We still have a lot to play for, and Philly is a very good team. So the focus right now is on tactics and I think it’s been a very good week of training.”
On the flip side of things, Philadelphia is still very much alive in the playoff race, as a win on Sunday coupled with a New England Revolution loss or draw would secure the Union their first playoff berth since 2011.
Orlando City has a chance to redeem itself from a stinging early-season loss in Philadelphia and stop the Union in their path to the playoffs.
“That should motivate us, and it’s a game that I think we need to show a lot,” Carrasco said.
With the postseason now out of reach for Orlando after its 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact two weeks ago, it could be easy for a team like City with nothing left to play for — competitively, at least — to give up and look forward to the off-season vacations, but Carrasco insists that’s not the mentality of the team heading into the final two weeks.
“We’re still focused on these last two games, we’re not thinking about next year yet,” Carrasco assured. “These two games are massive for us. [Jason Kreis] laid out the way that he wants to play, and we’ve kept working on that this entire week. I think this game against Philly is a giant step forward, and then D.C.”
Orlando City wants to finish the season on a high note, and wins against two potential playoff teams would put the club riding pretty high — playoffs or not.