With 23 points through 20 games played, Orlando is sitting in the seventh spot in the contested Eastern Conference. This showing for Orlando looks even worse when we see who is at the top, as NYCFC and Philadelphia are looking to pull away from the rest of the East. This leaves Orlando fighting for four other playoff spots through the final 14 matches.
Putting points aside, Orlando has been running through quite a bit of a rough patch lately, with players leaving and coaches being fired. Of course some can turn Jason Kreis coming into a positive as he is undoubtedly very talented. He could bring the positive that Heath may have never fully grasped: a coach who understands this league and the many intricacies of MLS. However, nobody can argue that Orlando is in a dangerous moment for a newly minted franchise; they are defining an identity and that is never easy.
At a few points this season, The Mane Land has used a favorite or underdog look to point out some of the upcoming matches that Orlando may or may not have opportunities to earn maximum points. Just a few days ago, we broke out some of the individual matches coming up -- read here for some context on who OCSC faces the rest of the way. The problem so far this season is that Orlando has shown to be highly prevalent to the one-point draw, with 11 so far this season.
A few months ago, earlier in the 2016 campaign, this same favorite or underdog look showed issues late in the season. Herein, we have updated the favorites or underdog look.
Needing to set guidelines to determine a team's winning potential, a range from +1 to -1 was used. A +1 point in the differential will result in the team having a high chance of winning and vice versa -- if they have a -1 point differential, they have a high chance of a loss. If the range is between +.5 points to +1 point, the team has a chance to win or draw and from -.5 to -1 points, it may result in a loss or draw. Lastly, those matches that are within the +.5 to -.5 point differential would be considered "up for grabs." Using this data, we can see by how much Orlando is either a favorite or an underdog.
Below is the visual associated with the favorite or underdog look, using point differential from matches so far in the 2016 season. Anything in green is a positive point differential and anything in red is a negative point differential. Anything in yellow is within the .5 and -.5 spread to show that the game is too close to call:
From a visual standpoint, there seems to be a boat load of red late in the season for Orlando. This is easily explained, as in the last 14 matches Orlando will be seeing nine current playoff teams -- and, of those, there are both of the top two Eastern Conference teams as well as the Western Conference's Colorado, LA and Seattle. The Sounders are still extremely dangerous even though they're not currently in the playoff hunt.
Many would look at this and think perhaps it is time to start playing for next year, and honestly the team may actually start to do that. Kreis could come in and start to experiment with this team to test out what works best and whom he can trust. There could end up being formation shifts from match to match and we may not see the same exact lineup, not like that happens often anyways.
But, even talking about all of those possibilities, there is still history to consider. That history includes how Orlando finished the 2015 MLS season with five wins in a row and 15 points out of 18 in the final six matches, with three of those matches at home. So, there is precedent. Orlando has the ability and now the Lions have a coach with a strong history of winning in MLS.