Only 11 games remain in Orlando City's 2016 campaign and, just like last year, the playoffs are the hot topic for this team. Coming off a disappointing draw to bottom-of-the-table Chicago, Orlando is still fully capable of making the final six spots, but after leaving more points on the table, I decided to take a look to see, historically speaking, if Orlando City can make it to the promised land.
Last year, the Lions came painfully close to the final spot, but fell five points short of Toronto FC. The Reds clinched that spot getting 49 points on the season. The year before, when only the top five got in, Sporting Kansas City (now a Western Conference team), also got the last spot with 49 points and in 2013, the Montreal Impact got in with, you guessed it, 49 points. So, the goal for Orlando City this year should be to at least get 49 points to have a chance of making the playoffs.
Currently, Orlando sits at 27 points through 23 games, meaning in order to reach the 49-point mark, it would need 22 points from the last 11 games. If the Lions get a result in each game from this point on, six wins and five draws would put them just above the mark at 50. Again, it's still possible to hit that number, but Orlando's schedule is less than favorable for such a run of results.
The Lions have five home games remaining in which they face Toronto FC (second place in East), New York City FC (first place in East), Columbus Crew SC, Montreal Impact (fifth place in East) and D.C. United (sixth place in East), in that order. Toronto, NYCFC, Montreal and D.C. are all above the red line for now, while Columbus is sitting in ninth, which means a full three points at home will be hard to come by in almost every game.
The six away fixtures feature Colorado (second place in West), Montreal, LA Galaxy (third place in West), D.C. United, Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union (fourth place in East). The Western Conference is much stronger than the East, making the games in Colorado and LA the two toughest remaining games this year. Traveling up to Canada to play Toronto and Montreal are also long flights, which could be troubling for the Lions.
So, viewing the games as a whole, I could see Orlando winning at home against Columbus, D.C. United and maybe Montreal -- especially if Drogba doesn't play again. This would give Orlando nine out of a possible 15 points at home. In the away fixtures, I could possibly see a win at D.C. and Philly, but the others will be either draws or losses.
If the Lions were to win those five games, they would need to draw all the others just to get to 21 points, giving them a total of 48 at season's end. Now, the question becomes, can City pull it off?
In 2015, the Lions had an amazing run during September, where they won five of their last six games, but still fell five points short. If you compare where the Lions were last year to where they are this year, they are actually one point behind, but have two games in hand. The Lions had 28 points through 25 games at this point in 2015, while in 2016 Orlando has 27 points through 23 games, which means the club is on pace for more points this year than last. The schedules of this year and last are also very comparable, with a lot of the same teams showing up around the same times.
All the Lions need to do now is essentially rely on an incredible win streak in the last two months of the season and they will be into the playoffs! Who knows? Crazier things have happened before.
Do you think Orlando will make the playoffs this year? Comment below and let us know what you think.