Before I begin with the recap of today’s matches, let me offer a friendly reminder about preseason matches:
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get to today’s recap.
First off, here’s how Orlando City lined up to start the first match:
Almost immediately out of the gate, Toronto came out in attack, not letting Orlando pass the midfield line. In the fourth minute, Jozy Altidore volleyed home a cross just out of reach of Joe Bendik, putting the Lions down early, 1-0. Through the first half, Orlando struggled to maintain possession. Toronto’s high pressing and swarming defense made it tough for the Lions to create any opportunities.
Just over 20 minutes into the half, Rafael Ramos went down injured after coming forward for an attack. He was holding the back of his right leg and had to limp off the field with what appeared to be a hamstring issue. The team is unsure of the severity of the injury, but we’ll have an update later on in the week.
In his stead, Jules Youmeni, recently signed to Orlando City B from Montverde Academy, came in and played the rest of the match and was fairly impressive as well. He’s definitely a player to watch with OCB this year.
Just before the end of the first half, Orlando was able to draw a free kick from just outside the box. On the service in, TFC keeper Clint Irwin punched Jonathan Spector instead of the ball, which drew Orlando a penalty. Kaká stepped in and calmly slotted it to the right to level the match.
Through the second half, it was all Orlando. The Lions were creating chances, maintaining possession, and forcing Toronto to defend much more than the first half. However, the Lions still were unable to finish their chances. Cyle Larin, who had a very off day, missed at least three golden opportunities to score, even missing a wide open net.
Those missed chances would come back to haunt Orlando as with five minutes left in the match, Toronto drew a free kick from outside the box. Giovinco took an absolute beauty of a free kick and chipped it into goal, putting the Reds up 2-1. Giovinco was able to get his second just five minutes later off of a rebounded shot that was saved by Bendik. The final whistle blew a few seconds later, ending the first match with a final score of 3-1.
For the second game, Orlando lined up like this:
This match was, in its entirety, dominated by Toronto’s reserves. The game got off to a very rough start after a shot from Jordan Hamilton rolled off the hands of Josh Saunders and into the path of Ben Spencer, who was there for the easy tap-in. It stayed that way for the rest of the first half, then the game opened up in the last 45 minutes. Three goals were put past Earl Edwards Jr., one by his own defender, Donny Toia. It was a rough outing for the Orlando reserves, but was still valuable game experience.
The team will have a few days off to recover and will be back training on Wednesday, in preparation for their final preseason tune-up on Saturday against Saint Louis FC at the new downtown stadium.
Check back later for story updates with quotes.