Saturday will mark the second time this year that Orlando City SC will face Toronto FC. Last time around, the Lions lost a 2-1 heartbreaker after a late Toronto goal. So what needs to change from the game that took place nearly a month ago in order for Orlando to finally snap its long losing streak? Well, in short, the team needs to stay focused and eliminate mental mistakes, while also finding its scoring touch.
Like many Orlando supporters, I feel like a broken record with the number of times I’ve droned on about the need to cut out mental errors over the course of this losing streak. But damn it, that’s what’s proved costly time and time again, and it was costly in Toronto almost two months ago. All it took was two lapses in concentration for TFC to score twice after the Lions defended well for most of the game.
Granted, the first goal came as a result of an unlucky deflection off Oriol Rosell’s toe, but Lamine Sané was slow to react, and Tosaint Ricketts was quickly onto the ball to slot it past Joe Bendik. The second error is less forgivable though, as Mohamed El-Munir lunged in needlessly when he had Auro very nearly trapped between the sideline and the byline. Instead of keeping the Brazilian out wide with nowhere to go, El-Mo’s rash challenge allowed the right back to get inside the box and play a ball to the back post for Ryan Telfer to wallop home. It was a shame, not just because it proved to be the game-winning goal, but because El-Mo really had quite a decent game until his ill-advised challenge. It might seem nit-picky, but simple mistakes like that are what separate losing teams from winning ones, something that has been on display over and over throughout this abysmal run.
During the team’s nine-game losing streak, only once has Orlando City scored more than one goal. During the first game against Toronto, the Lions sorely missed Dom Dwyer, and struggled to create much offense without the team’s talisman. Thankfully, Dom seems likely to be fit for the second edition of Orlando vs Toronto, but his presence by no means guarantees goals. Lately, whoever gets deployed at striker has had a bit of a rough go of things as far as service is concerned and the Lions are going to need to do much better in that area. Very rarely will scoring one goal be enough against a team like Toronto, and that’s assuming the Lions do manage to get a goal. Further complicating matters is the return of Sebastian Giovinco to the Toronto lineup. He didn’t feature in the loss earlier in the season and one would bet on the Reds being more offensively competent with the Italian pulling the strings.
If the Lions are to stick with the team from up north on Saturday, they can’t afford to have the sort of lapses in concentration that doomed the team last time around, and they also need to show up with their shooting boots primed and ready. Unfortunately, both of those things have plagued OCSC greatly over the last couple of months. Hope springs eternal, however, and surely this horror run can’t go on forever. The team did look better last weekend than it has in a while, with the 4-1 scoreline being harsh in my humble opinion, so tomorrow is a good a day as any to break the voodoo. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET, with the Orlando Pride taking on the Utah Royals an hour earlier at 7 p.m. Vamos Orlando!