Orlando City went on the road, looking to grab a result and some important points in an Eastern Conference playoff race. Instead, the Lions came out flat and MLS star Sebastian Giovinco gave the hometown fans plenty to cheer about, as Toronto FC thrashed Orlando City, 4-1. Here are our five takeaways from tonight's match:
Toronto spoils Larin's Homecoming
Cyle Larin returned to his home country only to find a less-than-hospitable Toronto FC waiting. Larin had a few opportunities in the first half but had a relatively quiet night. Toronto FC went with a very physical approach that seemed to work, as Larin was unable to create anything dangerous. Toronto FC center backs Damien Perquis and Ahmed Kantari pummeled Larin at every chance. The future is bright for Larin but we have to remember he is a 20-year old rookie and will have games like this. He missed someone up top that could connect with him, which leads to the next point.
No Kaká, No Playoffs
Orlando City is not a playoff team when Kaká is not in the lineup, and this team will go as far as the captain will take them. The Brazilian has been the player that was able to combine with Larin and help move the ball around. Darwin Ceren and Eric Avila tried to fill his shoes tonight, but lacked the field vision that Kaká has. The former Ballon d'Or winner's replacements played more defensively and left Larin alone on up top with no one to combine with. Orlando City does not have a central midfielder that can step in and possess the ball in Kaká's absence, and it showed tonight. Kaká is the glue that holds this team together and when he is not in the lineup this team is not going to scare anyone in MLS.
Sebastian Giovinco is that good. He is what a Designated Player should be in MLS. Giovinco had a quiet first game against Orlando City earlier in the year. Tonight was completely different. With Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley out, Giovinco stepped up and led his team tonight. His pace helped to draw two fouls that both resulted in goals for Toronto FC. His second goal, in the 56th minute, was world class, with the bending free kick from 25 yards out. The third goal came as Orlando City started to press the issue, which was another great finish. Giovinco is now the league leader with 16 goals and the clear front-runner for the Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player Award.
Don't Blame Hall
Tally Hall again had a solid outing, making six saves. Tally looked good on early opportunities by Toronto and was at no fault for any of the goals tonight. Tally Hall's save in the 41st minute on Giovinco was the biggest of his six saves on the night. He made some great decisions late in the match, coming off his line to prevent (or delay) Giovinco's hat trick. The one thing missing tonight was the passionate, fiery Hall. Even with that being said, Hall continues to give Orlando City the opportunity to win, night in and night out, and that is what you want from your keeper. His play down the stretch of the season is just as important as Kaká's presence, if Orlando City wants to make a playoff run.
Orlando City 2015: Jekyll and Hyde?
Orlando City came out and played with high energy and took the game to Columbus Crew SC last Saturday. Tonight, against Toronto FC, we saw the other Orlando City team -- a club that was lackadaisical in possessing the ball and showed little to no urgency most of the match. We have seen this team before, in games against Montreal and, more recently, in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against the Chicago Fire. Inconsistency is what most expansion teams experience in their inaugural season and Orlando City has been demonstrating that in matches this year. The problem is Orlando City needs results on the road and they can't afford to have matches like this if they want to make the playoffs.
The question now is: which Orlando City team will show up Saturday night at the Citrus Bowl against the Philadelphia Union?