After Saturday night's 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapids, Orlando City now has 13 draws on the season leaving the Lions just five shy of the MLS record. The large number of draws has drawn criticism from fans but this is the year that it could work in their favor.
Two years ago, the Chicago Fire drew 18 games, which set a new record for most draws in an MLS season. That year, they accumulated 36 total points on the season, which left the Fire in ninth place and outside of the playoffs by 13 points. With 13 draws already this season, Orlando City needs to just draw half of its remaining 10 games to equal that record. But, unlike the 2014 Fire, that likely wouldn't leave them so far back.
Over the last three years, the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference went to a team with 49 points. In a 34-game season, that's 1.44 points per game. This year, it's been a different story. The team with 1.44 points per game in the Eastern Conference is the New York Red Bulls, who have gained 36 points so far. That puts them on pace to end the season with 49 points. Over the last three years, that would'v placed them in fifth, fourth, and sixth, while they currently sit in third.
Orlando City currently sits in sixth place, entering Sunday just over the red line. The Lions currently have 28 points after 24 games, which has them averaging 1.17 points per game. At this rate, they'll finish the season with 40 points. Over the last three years, that would've had them finishing in ninth, eighth, and eighth.
The way the 2016 MLS season has gone for Orlando City, the club could very well end up catching the 2014 Fire's record of 18 draws. After all, in the team’s final 10 games, five are at home and five are away. This year, the Lions have only won once on the road, on their first trip of the season at New York City FC, and have drawn six compared to five losses away from Camping World Stadium.
Most seasons would see that as a negative, as that many draws would likely have the team in eighth or ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Orlando City has made its intention of qualifying for the postseason very clear. And accumulating enough draws to set a new league record would seem to go against that intention. But this year, that many draws could see the team slip into that final playoff spot.
While in most seasons this would mean finishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, that could mean they end up in the final playoff spot. It may be that Orlando City defies expectations in more than one way this year.