By: Marco D'Onofrio
If knowledge truly is experimental, then nobody should be taking anything for granted down the stretch of the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference playoff race.
Didier Drogba seemed to have dealt Orlando City's playoff hopes a fatal blow when he buried a lovely free kick against the Colorado Rapids to give the Montreal Impact a 1-0 victory last Saturday. The goal put Montreal four points up on the expansion team with just two games to play. But as we've seen in the past, this is MLS and anything can happen.
On paper, Orlando has the far easier schedule in the last couple of weeks, finishing their season against two teams already eliminated from playoff contention. They will host New York City FC on Friday night, before capping off their inaugural campaign in Philadelphia against the Union on Decision Day.
Montreal on the other hand, are not so fortunate as they will be in much tougher against two Eastern Conference rivals. The Impact will travel to Massachusetts to play the New England Revolution, before heading home to host Toronto FC in the final match of the season. The Revolution are fighting for second spot in the East to avoid playing the one game knockout match to kickoff the playoffs, while Toronto are still looking to officially clinch their first ever MLS playoff berth.
The Reds can claim a spot with just a single point in one of their final three matches, but they have two difficult games at home this week against the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew. If somehow they do manage to lose both games, Greg Vanney's men could be staring down the barrel of a very intense Decision Day at Stade Saputo.
However, this is all hypothetical at the moment, and if Orlando fail to win their remaining two games then both Canadian clubs will find themselves in the postseason. With the Vancouver Whitecaps having already done their bit to solidify a place in the Western Conference playoffs, it would mark the first time in league history that all three Canadian teams have qualified for the postseason.
Even if Orlando does finish in seventh spot though, their fans have proven themselves to be some of the most passionate and enthusiastic that the league has ever had. They should be encouraged by all the positives they've seen in 2015.
The team's first ever draft pick Cyle Larin is the clear frontrunner for MLS Rookie of the Year, having already made history for most goals scored in a single season by a rookie. They also have a dedicated international superstar who has given his all for the club in Kaka, and they look destined to finish ahead of their expansion rivals, NYCFC.
The playoff race is far from over though, with all the pressure squarely on both Montreal and Toronto to seal the deal and end the hunt this week. Orlando City will be lurking, but they also need to get the job done themselves first before they can even begin dreaming about playing soccer in Novembe