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Putting Orlando City’s Playoff Chances in Perspective

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Orlando City has the same chances of making the MLS playoffs as the 5-11 Chargers have at winning the Super Bowl.

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

After Orlando City’s most recent loss — a 2-1 home defeat to Vancouver — the Lions’ playoff chances have been set at just 2% by the official site of MLS. That’s right, the league has Orlando sitting with a 98% chance to miss the playoffs for the third straight season as the club sits five points out of the final playoff spot with only eight games to play.

There are some long-shot sports comparisons we can look to for inspiration to keep the “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” spirit alive — the most recent and prominent being Leicester City’s 2015-16 English Premier League title. The Foxes donned the Premier League crown that season despite famously being given 5,000-to-1 odds by one English sportsbook, odds that equate to a 0.02% chance of success. Looking at those figures, sure, Orlando should keep hope alive.

There are many more sobering examples to keep the Lions’ 2% chances in perspective, though.

Conor McGregor, a man who had zero professional boxing experience as he prepared to take on one of the greatest of all time in Floyd Mayweather — who had lost zero of his previous 49 professional bouts — this past weekend, was given +950 opening odds by OddsShark. That +950 figure gave McGregor a theoretical 9.5% chance of winning the fight that, once again, was against one of the best boxers of all time in his first actual boxing match. Those odds may not look too far off when you consider McGregor lasted 10 rounds vs. Mayweather, but Floyd’s strategy to let Conor tire himself out is largely what allowed the Irishman to last so long, not so much his actual boxing acumen.

So a first-timer against a guy who is now 50-0 was given chances nearly five times higher out of the gate than City now has to qualify for the postseason. And he didn’t come particularly close to winning.

Looking to the NFL, the teams coming into the 2017 season with 2% odds of winning the Super Bowl include the Los Angeles Chargers (who finished 5-11 last season), the Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1), and a pair of .500 teams in Indianapolis and Baltimore. Those teams, like Orlando City, won’t see the promised land this season without a drastic turnaround, which is tough to envision.

The Milwaukee Bucks (1.5%) and Everton (1.2%) are the closest NBA and Premier League comparisons, respectively, while Shane Buechele (you may be asking “Who?”) and Cam Akers are sitting with 2% chances to win the Heisman Trophy in college football this season. Buechele quarterbacked a 5-7 Texas team last season and threw for fewer than 3,000 yards, while Akers — despite being a 5-star recruit — is a true freshman who has yet to touch the football for Florida State and will likely only see backup carries to start the season. Not exactly Heisman front-runners, these two.

This is the reality we’re faced with, Orlando City fans: It’s probably just not gonna happen in 2017. Time to see what the youngins can do and maybe, hopefully, but probably not wait for teams like Atlanta and Montreal to falter and leave the playoff door cracked in the event that the Lions reverse their form.

And if City winds up in the postseason and Shane Buechele ends up in New York hoisting the Heisman this December, well, feel free to make fun of me.