After humbling defeats in the first two meetings with Toronto (10-10-4, 34 points) this season – one at home in April and the other away earlier this month – Orlando had to play shorthanded for the second straight match after Rafael Ramos and Adrian Winter were both shown red cards. The Portuguese's return from injury was short lived, and the Lions were sent home battered once more after an eventual 5-0 loss at BMO Field.
Orlando City (7-12-7, 28 points), with the memory of their 4-1 drubbing at BMO Field on Aug. 5 fresh in their minds, came out in a defensive mode in an effort to bottle up Sebastian Giovinco and company and looked to attack mainly off the counter. Right winger Adrian Winter was dropping back defensively while Kaká and Larin were the only two forward players for the Lions.
While playing in such a deep block, Orlando struggled mightily in the way of build-up play. Their only mode of getting the ball forward was sending long balls toward Larin, but the Canadian rookie was so isolated up top that these attempts yielded little success. The best opportunity of the opening half was a missed one for OCSC, as Larin failed to find Kaká as he was streaking through a channel in the center of the field.
Had Larin found the captain, he would have had space to operate at the top of the box, but the first-year striker kept the ball and was eventually dispossessed.
In something all too familiar to City supporters, the game was heavily influenced by the referee from the early going.
Cristian Higuita conceded a couple of free kicks after committing fouls following giveaways in the middle of the park, and Servando Carrasco and Kaká were each booked for yellow card offenses in the first half. The turning point of the match came in minute 36, when Ramos was shown red for a clumsy foul on Toronto's Justin Morrow. The red card seemed harsh from referee José Carlos Rivero, as Ramos did not go in with studs up and probably should have received a booking for the foul at worst, but such is life for Orlando City in 2015.
With Ramos gone, Winter dropped back even further in defense for the remainder of the half and was essentially playing in place of Orlando's missing right back when Toronto was in possession.
That plan worked well enough for the last 15 minutes of the first half, but it came crashing down just seconds into the second half as Toronto took a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Marky Delgado finish from close range.
Winter gave the ball away to Michael Bradley, who took full advantage of the void left behind the Swiss international by making a run from midfield all the way to the end line before sending a cross to Delgado for an easy finish in front of goal. Bradley used a stop-and-go to get past Aurélien Collin, who was covering on the right side and went to the ground in the box but failed to make a play on the ball.
Toronto would follow up with a flurry of chances just minutes later, as Tally Hall came up with a big save on a hard shot from Jonathan Osorio before Bradley sent the rebound over the crossbar. One minute later, Hall made another one-handed save on an effort from Giovinco, who recovered from a slight stumble to unleash a curler toward the near post with his right foot.
That's when the flood gates opened.
Giovinco was not deterred, as the Italian turned in another stunning free kick effort four minutes later after being fouled on the edge of the box by Winter, who was booked. Giovinco, who scored on a beauty of a free kick in the last meeting between these two teams, whipped a ball in off the far post from 19 yards, leaving Hall with zero chance of making a play and putting Toronto ahead 2-0 with his 17th goal of the season.
Bradley and Giovinco strung together a nice bit of link-up play in minute 71, as Bradley made an overlapping run into the left side of the box where Gio played him in and allowed him to register his second assist of the afternoon on a cross to Morrow, who slotted home easily into an open net.
Just for posterity, Winter earned himself a red card in minute 82, when he fouled Robbie Findley in the box. Hall had left the net and Winter had little choice but to try to hold up the Toronto player. Substitute Jozy Altidore subsequently slotted home the ensuing penalty kick for a 4-0 lead, and then scored a header at the back post two minutes later off a free kick to put the exclamation point on the beat-down.
Toronto controlled nearly 65 percent of the possession on the afternoon and out-shot the Lions 18-4. Orlando City managed just one shot on target and completed only 77% of its passes while allowing Toronto to complete 90% in what turned into a glorified training session for the Reds.
The Lions have now lost six times in their last eight league matches, and their playoff hopes are looking increasingly bleak with each passing performance. The red cards to Ramos and Winter were number eight and nine for Orlando this season, respectively, and the Lions have now played a league-high 311 shorthanded minutes this year. Overall, City was shown six cards on Saturday on 13 total fouls.
City has not scored a goal in 343 minutes of league play.