Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City (6-11-1, 19 points) and Toronto FC (4-10-4, 16 points) at Orlando City Stadium (8 p.m., TV27). It’s the second of two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals this season, with the Reds going for a season sweep.
The defending champions got off to a slow start due to focusing on Concacaf Champions League in the early part of the season, and with several key injuries the team still hasn’t gotten things cranked up the way we expected. That said, the Reds are still one of the league’s deepest teams and Toronto has had its way with Orlando City since the Lions joined Major League Soccer.
Toronto leads the very lopsided all-time series, 7-1-1 and is 3-1-0 in Orlando. The most recent meeting saw the Reds get a late game winner in a 2-1 decision at BMO Field on Ryan Telfer’s 87th-minute goal. The goal ruined what was a pretty good road performance by the Lions.
In the last match-up in OCS, Toronto ripped Orlando to shreds in a 3-1 win on July 5, 2017. Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco combined to score Toronto’s three goals. Carlos Rivas gave Orlando a consolation goal in what was just the Lions’ second home loss of last year in league play. In the first meeting of 2017, Orlando out-possessed, out-shot, and out-passed the hosts, and ultimately was the better team on the night. However, the Lions could not overcome a two-goal deficit and Giovinco’s first-half brace led Toronto to a 2-1 win.
The Lions got their only victory in the series on June 25, 2016 winning 3-2 at Camping World Stadium. Kaká scored from the spot in the 110th minute of stoppage to win it. Cyle Larin and Adrian Winter staked OCSC to leads, only to see Jordan Hamilton and Justin Morrow equalize, until the captain’s late winner. The Reds took the second 2016 match-up in Orlando with a 2-1 victory, scoring in the 86th minute through Altidore. Tosaint Ricketts gave Toronto an early lead but the Lions fought back on a Larin goal. The teams also drew 0-0 on Sept. 28 of that year, with Toronto able to fend off the Lions with 10 men over the final 20 minutes of the match.
In 2015, Toronto took home all nine points in the three meetings, beating Orlando by a combined score of 11-1. The final meeting of 2015 was a 5-0 massacre, with Orlando finishing the match with nine men. Toronto won the first-ever meeting, 2-0 on April 26. Giovinco’s hat trick led the way to a 4-1 drubbing of the Lions on Aug. 5 in the second match-up, with Luke Boden scoring Orlando’s only goal. Collen Warner also scored for Toronto.
Look, you get it. I don’t have to tell you about the nine damn losses in a row Orlando City has suffered. I don’t have to mention that Toronto has owned this series. There’s no need for me to bring up Giovinco’s dominance of the Lions and his propensity to score on set pieces in this series. And I probably don’t need to say that Toronto has probably already banked the three points from this game. It’s just the reality we live in. Until the Lions show us they can win a league game again, why would we assume this is the one? They may have done a lot of things much better at LAFC last weekend than what they had been doing, but they still lost 4-1, so there’s still a way to go.
This series has been a contentious and physical one. There have been 40 cards issued in the nine previous games, including four reds. That said, this has never felt like a true rivalry, despite having all the usual flash points that would lead to one. This is likely because Toronto has owned the scoreboard in the series.
Injuries will play a huge role for both teams. The Lions will likely be without Lamine Sané (quad), Scott Sutter (adductor), and Jonathan Spector (hamstring), while Cristian Higuita (adductor) has been spotted in training and may need to step in due to Uri Rosell’s suspension for yellow card accumulation. As of Tuesday, Toronto’s injury list had Altidore (foot surgery), Drew Moor (quad), Chris Mavinga (hamstring), Caleb Patterson-Sewell (elbow), Auro (hamstring), and Jason Hernandez (hamstring) listed as out, while Victor Vazquez (knee) could also miss the match.
Hey, let’s see what James O’Connor has in store for us in his second match in charge.
Mandatory Match #Content
Here's your mandatory match content to get you prepped:
- Our Intelligence Report provides more information about the Reds from Charlie O’Connor-Clarke, the managing editor of SB Nation’s Toronto FC blog, Waking the Red.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and final score predictions, plus our exclusive interview with Orlando City Assistant Coach Daniel Byrd.
- Ben Miller takes a look at what went wrong for the Lions in the first meeting against Toronto FC.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Earl Edwards Jr.
Defenders: Mohamed El-Munir, Chris Schuler, Amro Tarek, RJ Allen.
Defensive Midfielders: Will Johnson, Yoshimar Yotún.
Attacking Midfielders: Tony Rocha, Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller.
Forwards: Dom Dwyer.
Bench: Joe Bendik, Donny Toia, Shane O’Neill, Josué Colmán, Dillon Powers, Cam Lindley, Stefano Pinho.
Goalkeeper: Alex Bono.
Defenders: Justin Morrow, Nick Hagglund, Eriq Zavaleta,
Midfielders: Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Nicolas Hasler, Ryan Telfer, Marky Delgado,
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco, Jordan Hamilton.
Bench: Clint Irwin, Ashtone Morgan, Jay Chapman, Liam Fraser, Jozy Altidore, Ayo Akinola, Tosaint Ricketts.
Ref: Allen Chapman.
AR1: Michael Kampmeinert.
AR2: CJ Morgante.
4th: Louis Guardia.
VAR: Caleb Mendez.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. ET.
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: WRDQ TV27 (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: ESPN+, YouTube TV.
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Enjoy the match! Go City!