Another home match and another home loss for Orlando City (2-4-2), as the Lions fell 2-0 to a visiting Toronto FC side on Sunday night in the Citrus Bowl. Orlando City has now scored only one goal through four home matches, and is scoreless in its last 270 minutes at home.
The first half was a largely tepid affair, with neither team able to take control of the match. Orlando City managed 60% of the possession in the opening 45', but in an all-too-familiar stat line, City only had two shots on goal.
Toronto FC (2-4-0) almost started off the match in a big way in the opening minute. An early corner bounced out to midfielder Jackson, who fired an absolute blast on the volley from nearly 30 yards. Donovan Ricketts was up to the task though, as he extended to his left to parry the shot away.
City's best chance of the half came in the 7th minute, when Cyle Larin hustled to beat keeper Joseph Bendik to the ball. It bounced to Kevin Molino, who fired a shot from the corner of the box on the out-of-position Bendik, but the Toronto keeper was able to make a sprawling save.
In a sign of things to come, Toronto were very close in the 21st minute, off a quickly taken free kick from Jozy Altidore. Michael Bradley ran at Aurelien Collin, and then laid it off to Altidore on his right in the box. It took a last-ditch tackle from Seb Hines to keep the striker's shot off frame.
The half ended knotted at zero, with Toronto largely content to sit deep and counter. Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco didn't spend much time on the ball, but they did look very dangerous on the counter. City held more possession, but they were clearly missing the width that Ramos provides on the wing.
Five minutes into the second half, the Lions showed they hadn't learned from their earlier mistake. Altidore again rushed up to take a quick free kick and laid it off to Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian passed it right back to Altidore, who fended off Darwin Ceren, dribbled right through Hines, and beat Ricketts low for the goal. Okugo could also shoulder some blame for failing to prevent Altidore from playing the quick kick.
"The first goal was a bit of naivety on our part," Head Coach Adrian Heath said after the game..
Heath responded quickly, inserting winger Carlos Rivas and forward Danny Mwanga into the match, but it was no use. The Lions pressed, but they earned only a few weak attempts for their troubles.
Tyler Turner had struggled all night to make an impact in his relief appearance for a suspended Rafael Ramos, and he cost his team dearly in the 83rd minute. His poor trap opened up the counter for Toronto, and DP Jozy Altidore beat Hines again for his brace. Turner clearly realized he'd helped take his team out of the match, and he fell to the ground near the sideline with his hands over his face.
There were a few more shots well over the bar for Orlando, and a near-miss for Bryan Rochez, but the scoreline held at 2-0 to give Orlando its second straight loss.
The Lions clearly missed Ramos at right back, but it was more of the same deficiencies in the attacking third that truly cost them. There were a spattering a boos from the home fans at the final whistle, as Orlando has only managed one (deflected) goal through their first four home matches in MLS.
"Overall I don't think we were good enough to win the game and obviously that's a disappointment," Heath said. "I think we have enough quality in the team to be better in the final third. Sometimes it's the final ball, sometimes it's the movement."
The Lions have a bye week friendly against Brazilian side Ponte Preta next Saturday, May 2, at 7 p.m. They return to MLS action the following Friday, May 8, against the New England Revolution in the Citrus Bowl.