It’s less than two weeks until Orlando City kicks off the MLS is Back Tournament on July 8. Since we aren’t quite there yet, I’m bringing you another edition of Flashback Friday. Today we go back in time four years to June 25, 2016 and a match-up with Toronto FC.
The Lions were on a four-game undefeated streak consisting of a win and three consecutive draws. There were also some frustrations due to the team conceding late goals in two of those three draws, so a home game against a Toronto team with one win in its last five was seen as a way to get back to winning ways.
Adrian Heath lined up his team in a 4-2-3-1 with Joe Bendik in goal; David Mateos, Tommy Redding, Brek Shea, and Kevin Alston on the back line; Darwin Ceren and Cristian Higuita at defensive midfield; Kevin Molino, Kaká, and Adrian Winter as the attacking midfielders; and Cyle Larin up top. Meanwhile, Toronto FC put out a 4-4-2 with Clint Irwin in goal; Justin Morrow, Josh Williams, Drew Moor, and Nick Hagglund as the back four; Jonathan Osorio, Tsubasa Endoh, Benoit Cheyrou, and Will Johnson in midfield; and Jordan Hamilton and Sebastian Giovinco as the two strikers.
Things got off to a very quick start. Scarcely two minutes in, Molino won the ball in Toronto’s half and after some quick interplay Winter had a shot blocked at the last minute in the box. Things only continued to heat up, with the opening goal coming three minutes later. Mateos made an interception at midfield and got it forward to Winter, who found Molino on the edge of the box. The midfielder hit a raking pass with his first touch that was perfectly weighted for Larin to finish at the far post. Just like that, Orlando had an early lead.
Orlando continued to be the more dangerous team throughout the first half. Giovinco did force a save from Bendik on a free kick, but it was from rather far out and didn’t pose a ton of danger. In the 35th minute Irwin did very well to save a low shot from Kaká, and Larin rocked the post several minutes later. with a howitzer of a shot. The half ended 1-0, but the majority of the action was still to come.
Much like the first half, the second 45 minutes got off to a very quick start. Two minutes after the restart Osorio received the ball in the box and with his first touch he flicked the ball around the corner for Hamilton to finish with his first touch, bringing the score level.
Chances continued to fall to both teams as the second period wore on. Molino, Larin, and Kaká all missed narrowly when presented with decent chances, and the Lions were very fortunate not to concede on 62 minutes when Giovinco produced an excellent cutback on the edge of the box, only to whistle his shot just wide of the far post. As the clock hit 83 minutes, Orlando found a way through again, though largely due to a Toronto error. Substitute Luke Boden was played in down the right side of the box, and, after a tackle took the ball slightly away from him, substitute keeper Alex Bono came off his line to try to claim it. He was unable to do so, however, and Molino was first to the loose ball. He crossed for Winter, who calmly headed the ball into the open net to restore Orlando’s lead.
Unfortunately, it was a lead that didn’t last long, as Orlando’s tendency to give up late goals reared its ugly head again. With under a minute left in regulation, Giovinco got on the end of a long ball over the top. The Italian crossed, and, although Bendik got a hand to it, he could only palm it into the path of the onrushing Morrow, who simply tapped the ball into the open net to bring Toronto level once again.
An earlier lengthy stoppage to treat an injured Irwin had a pretty big impact on the game, since it caused a whopping eight minutes of stoppage time, and gave the Lions ample time to grab a late winner, which is exactly what they did.
After eight minutes of time had been played, a ball was lofted in high to Julio Baptista and The Beast went down under the challenge of Moor. The referee pointed to the spot, and while it looked to be a soft penalty Orlando now had the chance to snatch all three points at the death. Kaká stepped up, and rifled the ball in off the underside of the bar to send Camping World Stadium wild and give Orlando the win.
Here at The Mane Land we awarded Molino the Man of the Match award, with his two assists and excellent play on the night, earning him an 8.5/10. Other high scorers were Winter with an 8/10, and Shea, Redding and Kaká, who were all awarded 7.5/10. You can find the full player grades piece here.
That’ll do it for this edition of Flashback Friday. I’ll see you all back here next week.