Welcome to your match thread for tonight’s match-up between Orlando City (8-6-5, 29 points) and Toronto FC (10-3-5, 35 points) at Orlando City Stadium. It’s the second of two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals this season.
In what was a tight race in the Eastern Conference not so long ago, the gap between the two teams has widened with the Canadians now six points ahead of Orlando. But the Lions are used to this scenario, as Toronto has finished ahead of Orlando both years in its short MLS history.
Back in 2015, it looked like the Lions might be able to catch Toronto, as they won five straight games entering the final week, but led by Sebastian Giovinco — who led the league in goals, assists, shots, and shots on target — the Canadians won four of their last six games to make the playoffs. Last year the race was not as close, as Toronto finished 12 points ahead of the Lions.
Toronto leads the all-time series, 5-1-1. In 2015 Toronto took home all nine points, beating the expansion team by a combined score of 11-1. In the final head-to-head meeting in 2015, Toronto was on cruise control in a 5-0 massacre, although all goals were scored after halftime and Orlando finished the match with nine men due to 36th- and 82nd-minute red cards to Rafael Ramos and Adrian Winter, respectively. Things improved for the Floridians, and each of the next four games were decided by no more than a goal.
The last meeting came on May 3 of this year at BMO Field. Orlando out-possessed, out-shot, and out-passed the hosts, and ultimately was the better team on the night. Unlucky for the Lions, however, they could not overcome a two-goal deficit and Giovinco’s first-half brace led Toronto to a 2-1 win.
Something that seems inevitable when these two teams meet is for a card to come out. There have been 35 cards issued in the seven games, including four reds. The man in the center tonight is Alan Kelly, and he is not shy about disciplining players. His 45 yellows and two reds are some of the highest card totals in the league, with only three officials handing more out.
Toronto is second in the Eastern Conference, which is largely due to its performances at home. Toronto is undefeated at home, going 7-0-2 and outscoring its opponents, 21-6. Away from home the Reds are not as good, at 3-3-3, but it is still enough for the third-most away wins in the league behind LA Galaxy and NYCFC. Orlando’s performances at home have been making headlines this season, in part because of the brand-new stadium. The Lions are 6-1-3 in Orlando City Stadium, with the lone loss a complete letdown against expansion rivals New York City FC.
A rarity among these teams involves its goal scorers. Both Cyle Larin and Giovinco are used to being near the top of the goal-scoring list, but they both are in single figures with half the season gone.
Toronto will be missing a large portion of its team. Defenders Steven Beitashour (abdominal) and Nick Hagglund (hamstring) are out with injuries, while defender Justin Morrow (U.S.), midfielders Jonathan Osorio (Canada), and Armando Cooper (Panama), and forwards Tosaint Ricketts (Canada) and Raheem Edwards (Canada) have all been called up to their respective national teams. Orlando is luckier on this with only Carlos Rivas recovering from an ankle injury. Rivas should be available for selection after returning to training early this week.
Here's your mandatory match content for tonight:
- Gavin Ewbank has your match preview and prediction.
- Our Intelligence Report gives us more about the Reds from Mitchell Tierney of SB Nation’s Toronto FC blog, Waking the Red.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and more predictions, plus our exclusive interview with Orlando City broadcaster Jeff Radcliffe.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik.
Defenders: Scott Sutter, Jose Aja, Jonathan Spector, Donny Toia.
Midfielders: Kaká, Antonio Nocerino, Servando Carrasco, Will Johnson.
Forwards: Giles Barnes, Cyle Larin.
Bench: Josh Saunders, Rafael Ramos, Leo Pereira, Luis Gil, Hadji Barry, Richie Laryea, Carlos Rivas.
Goalkeeper: Alex Bono.
Defenders: Jason Hernandez, Ashtone Morgan, Eriq Zavaleta.
Midfielders: Benoit Cheyrou, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marco Delgado, Oyvind Alseth.
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore.
Bench: Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Jay Chapman, Ben Spencer, Jordan Hamilton, Tsubasa Endoh.
Ref: Allen Kelly.
AR1: Matthew Nelson.
AR2: Claudiu Badea.
4th: Mark Kadlecik.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: TV27 (local only), TSN (Canada).
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: MLS Live.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match!