Orlando City and Toronto FC met for the first of what will be three crucial matches between the Eastern Conference foes. The Lions got the three points they were desperate for off a Kaká penalty kick late in stoppage time. Orlando City now goes above Toronto FC and above the red line with 20 points.
The team looked to have more of an attacking flair throughout the match due to the return of Kaká. Take a look at our player grades and man of the match for the 3-2 win over Toronto FC. And be sure to vote in our poll below for your MotM.
G, Joe Bendik, 7- Excellent on services tonight and owning the box. Joe couldn't be to blame on the Toronto goals, as Kevin Alston didn't see backside runs twice. He may have gotten away with a foul on Hamilton in the 74th minute after he made two point-blank saves, but he also had a point-saving tackle in stoppage time.
D, Brek Shea, 7.5 - Brek was active on the outside, making his usual dangerous runs down the left side. Shea's runs are more dangerous if someone can get him the ball, and Kaká is that player. Ricky was able to find him on the flank numerous times. Shea found Larin on a nice ball in the 37th minute that set up a Kaká chance, and he was a good support option for most of the night for the defense.
D, David Mateos, 6.5 - Positioning was solid, and had a nice block in the 21st minute on Tsubasa Endoh that preserved the lead in the first half. Mateos earned his second yellow card of the season on a "tactical foul" on MLS MVP Sebastian Givovinco in the first half, which was the smart decision, as the Italian had four goals against Orlando City last year.
D, Tommy Redding, 7.5 - Another solid night from the youngster after learning he was called up to the U.S. U-20 team earlier in the week. He was in solid position for most of the night and, for the most part, he was part of a back four that kept last year's MLS MVP quiet. He did well to close down the danger in front of goal and didn't give the Italian many opportunities. Head Coach Adrian Heath said of Redding's play: "For a 19-year-old boy he's getting better by the day. The sky is the limit." He continues to shut down the MLS's best strikers week in and week out.
D, Kevin Alston, 6 - Alston had some nice early runs that were part of a very dangerous Orlando City attack. Kevin needed to check his back shoulder on the Jordan Hamilton goal, as he lost Hamilton on the goal-scoring run. Kevin's blue-collar effort and run in the 83rd minute directly resulted in the Winter goal. The debate will continue as to who is the better right back option for Orlando City, as Alston's marking has become suspect in the last few matches.
MF, Darwin Cerén, 6.5 - A great return to form for the El Salvadorian midfielder in the first half as he did well to keep the shape of the defensive midfield and provide an outlet out of pressure. In the second half you could start to see the lack of fitness, and his passes began to be sprayed across the field.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 6.5 - Below average first half for Cristian, as his passes weren't just a tad off. He played well defensively and during the second half threaded the needle to Winter for an opportunity. Most of the game he was under control, but he just didn't link the passes like he normally is accustomed to. However, no yellow card tonight, which is always plus.
MF, Kevin Molino, 8.5 (MotM) - The Trinidadian international played with the energy that we have become accustomed to in Orlando. Molino's pass to Larin in the fifth minute was a thing of beauty. He continued his good play by running at the back line and took two shots on goal. Molino's night concluded with his second assist of the game to Winter.
MF, Adrian Winter, 8 - Winter is the "Energizer Bunny" of this team. He's constantly running down balls and making it difficult for opposing teams to possess the ball. The Swiss midfielder showed great vision when he played a ball to his left to set up the assist by Molino in the fifth minute. He was rewarded for his hard work in the 83rd minute with his goal.
MF, Kaká, 7.5 - It is great to have the captain back on the field. Kaká was connecting passes early and was pushing the play against the Toronto back line. The Brazilian orchestrated the dangerous combination passes with Winter and Molino to set up the Larin goal. He was the captain tonight and the catalyst for the attack, and this team needed him tonight in the closing moments to take the penalty. He can shoot to the keeper's right every time, but if it has the pace it did tonight, it won't matter.
F, Cyle Larin, 7 - The Canadian got his opportunity early to get on the score sheet and he took full advantage of a great pass from Molino in the fifth to give Orlando City a 1-0 lead. Larin struck the post in the 38th minute when he slotted a ball from Kaká.
F, Júlio Baptista (79'), 6.5 - Baptista continues to come in late and deliver for Orlando City, drawing the late penalty that Kaká finished. Heath said, "He can make and score goals." This makes it two weeks in a row that the Brazilian has come on and changed the match. He is turning out to be the most valuable off-season addition.
MF, Servando Carrasco, (86'), 6 - Carrasco was pedestrian in the final moments of the game. He did well to occupy the space as an extra defensive midfielder.
Tonight, the players can be happy about the effort and the result. This team is starting to believe that, no matter the situation, it can find the result. Who do you think was the man of the match? Vote below and add your comments.