Friday night in front of over 43,000 fans at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando City remained in contention to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Lions 2-1 victory over fellow first year MLS side New York City FC gives the Orlando a shot, albeit a remote one of joining eleven other sides in the postseason. Cyle Larin, who I wrote a feature story about for Canadian Magazine Plastic Pitch earlier in the year scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season.
The win guaranteed that Orlando regardless of results this upcoming week will finish with more points than New York City FC who are owned by Manchester City FC winners of the English Premier League two of the last four seasons. But this coming weekend, Orlando will need New York to do the Lions a massive favor, beating New England at Yankee Stadium while the Lions must reverse an eight goal difference with the Revolution at the same time as beating Philadelphia. Both New York and Philadelphia are eliminated from playoff contention.
Moving on to the NASL where two weeks remain in the season, the expansion Jacksonville Armada heroically kept its postseason hopes alive with a come-from-behind win 3-2 over FC Edmonton. The Armada scored twice late on in the match while down to ten men. The valiant comeback restores hope for the Armada who sit six points out of the final spot in the NASL’s unique postseason known as the Championship.
Entering the final two weeks of the season, ten of eleven NASL teams remain in contention for a spot in the four team Championship. Jacksonville however, along with four other NASL sides will be eliminated this Wednesday if Fort Lauderdale defeats San Antonio at Lockhart Stadium. The Strikers routed Carolina 4-0 on Saturday night and sit in the final NASL Championship spot with a game in hand on the chasing pack. That game in hand will be played Wednesday and a Strikers win will eliminate every club that sits behind Fort Lauderdale in the table currently with the exception of Tampa Bay.
The Rowdies will remain alive regardless of the Strikers midweek result, but Fort Lauderdale’s win, combined with Tampa Bay’s 0-0 draw in Atlanta complicates matters. Tampa Bay plays Carolina this weekend in St Petersburg and then travels to New York to face the Cosmos in the season finale. If the Strikers do win on Wednesday, Tampa Bay will need to win both games while hoping Fort Lauderdale lose both to qualify, unless a massive reversal in goal difference takes place. The Rowdies predicament will mirror Orlando’s if Fort Lauderdale wins on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay can qualify with a win and a draw if Fort Lauderdale wins Wednesday but loses its final two matches, both being played away from home. But the Rowdies would have to reverse a 12 goal difference to do so. If the goal difference is equal, Fort Lauderdale which won the head-to-head series between the teams would qualify.
Fort Lauderdale’s game against San Antonio Wednesday night carries with it the hopes of just about every other team in the league that is still alive for postseason. A Strikers win would nearly close the deal. We’ll have a TKR podcast preview (with snazzy new audio equipment!) for that match on Tuesday. The show will include the thoughts of Strikers Manager Günter Kronsteiner.
If Fort Lauderdale qualifies for the postseason, they will be one of only two NASL clubs (Minnesota is the other) to have qualified four times for the postseason in the five year history of the league.