Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City (8-11-5, 29 points) and Toronto FC (9-10-5, 32 points) at BMO Field (7:30 p.m., My65). It’s the second of two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals this season, with the teams having already met in early May in Orlando.
The 2017 champions are one spot ahead of the Lions in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, which makes tonight’s match a big one. The Reds can distance themselves from Orlando with a win, remain essentially two games ahead with a draw, or could fall within the Lions’ clutches if City can pull off their first-ever road win in Toronto.
Toronto leads the very lopsided all-time series, 8-2-1, and is 4-0-1 at home. The Reds walked out of Orlando with a 2-0 win on May 4, on goals by Jonathan Osorio and Jay Chapman.
The teams split their season series last year. Orlando City captured a 2-1 win at home in James O’Connor’s first home game as head coach of the Lions on July 14, 2018. Chris Schuler and Dom Dwyer staked City to a 2-0 lead and Nick Hagglund ruined the shutout in the 94th minute off a Sebastian Giovinco free kick delivery. The last meeting in Toronto saw the Reds get a late game winner in a 2-1 decision at BMO Field on Ryan Telfer’s 87th-minute goal. That goal ruined what was a pretty good road performance by the Lions.
Toronto shredded Orlando in a 3-1 win on July 5, 2017. Jozy Altidore and Giovinco combined to score Toronto’s three goals. Carlos Rivas gave Orlando a consolation goal. In the first meeting of 2017, Orlando out-possessed, out-shot, and out-passed the hosts, and played like 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 first victory in the series on June 25, 2016 winning 3-2 at Camping World Stadium. Kaká scored from the spot in the 10th minute of stoppage time to win it. Cyle Larin and Adrian Winter each gave OCSC leads in the game, 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.
Toronto is 6-4-3 at BMO Field this season. Orlando City is 3-5-4 on the road. Both teams played midweek cup matches, with the Lions falling 2-0 at home to Atlanta Tuesday and Toronto winning at Ottawa by the same score on Wednesday. The two clubs had the opposite happen in their most recent league games last Saturday, with Orlando defeating FC Dallas at home, 2-0, and Toronto falling by that same score at the New York Red Bulls.
This series has been a contentious and physical one. There have been 44 cards issued in the 11 previous games, including four reds. (Although, surprisingly, there were none issued in the May meeting.) 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.
If the Lions are going to take something from this game, they’ll have to starve Pozuelo of service and defend him in numbers. The 27-year-old Spaniard has been a human highlight reel in 2019. He’s already racked up nine goals and nine assists in 20 MLS matches. Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley have also given Orlando fits in the past.
On the other end of the pitch, Orlando will have to find opportunities to put pressure on the Toronto defense, create odd-man opportunities in and around the penalty area, and not allow Bradley to leave his mark on the game.
The Lions will be without Cristian Higuita (hamstring), while Joao Moutinho (hamstring) is questionable after leaving Tuesday’s match early. New midfielder Mauricio Pereyra is still working his way into playing shape after not having been in game action since the spring. Sebas Mendez is likely out due to yellow card accumulation but the league site doesn’t seem to be up-to-date as of this writing. Toronto lists no injuries on the team report.
As for the lineups below, I am projecting slight rotation but with Orlando needing every point, I think O’Connor will field a strong lineup tonight.
Mandatory Match #Content
- 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.
Orlando City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe.
Defenders: Kamal Miller, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Kyle Smith.
Midfielders: Carlos Ascues, Nani, Uri Rosell.
Forwards: Chris Mueller, Dom Dwyer, Robinho.
Bench: Greg Ranjitsingh, Ruan, Shane O’Neill, Dillon Powers, Benji Michel, Sacha Kljestan, Tesho Akindele.
Goalkeeper: Quentin Westberg.
Defenders: Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Omar Gonzalez, Auro.
Defensive Midfielders: Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado.
Attacking Midfielders: Jacob Shaffelburg, Alejandro Pozuelo, Tsubasa Endoh.
Forward: Jozy Altidore.
Bench: Alex Bono, Laurent Ciman, Ashtone Morgan, Nicolas Benezet, Jonathan Osorio, Erickson Gallardo, Patrick Mullins.
Ref: Kevin Stott.
AR1: Cory Richardson.
AR2: Adam Garner.
4th: Mark Allatin.
VAR: Geoff Gamble.
AVAR: Robert Schaap.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: BMO Field — Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
TV: My65 (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ and YouTube TV.
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Enjoy the match! Go City!
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