Benji Michel and Orlando City SC celebrate after Crew SC win
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Could weak closing schedule help Orlando City, Chicago Fire sneak in?

Orlando City and the Chicago Fire both face a considerable uphill climb over their final four games of the MLS regular season if they're to reach the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. But a look at their strength of schedule suggests it would be unwise to count out either yet.

Yes, eighth-place Orlando and ninth-place Chicago are four and five points, respectively, beneath the Eastern Conference playoff line, and the teams they're trying to catch all have a game in hand. But they also have the two easiest strength of schedule ratings — in terms of their oppnoents' points per game — entering the stretch run.

In some ways, the playoff hopes of both teams rest squarely on the Lions' shoulders this Saturday in their absolutely massive clash at home against the seventh-place New England Revolution (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). An Orlando win could bring the Lions within a point of the Revs, and Chicago could get within two should they beat FC Dallas at home earlier that afternoon (3:30 pm ET | Univision, Twitter — Full TV & streaming info).

Each team's remaining strength of schedule, based on the average number of points earned by their remaining opponents.

Elsewhere, the San Jose Earthquakes are closing in on completing a remarkable one-year turnaround by making the postseason, but they'll have to navigate the league's toughest remaining schedule. The Philadelphia Union, after losing their grasp on the top spot in the Eastern Conference, may have a tough spot wrestling it back from New York City FC with the toughest remaining schedule in the East. In the latter's case, the two teams also meet on Decision Day presented by AT&T in Philadelphia.

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