After a quick trip back to Orlando for the U.S. Open Cup, the Lions will head back north of the border for their second straight MLS game against a Canadian opponent when they take on Toronto FC this Saturday at 3 p.m. Let’s take a deep dive into Eastern Conference foe, Toronto FC.
Toronto has one of the most efficient and precise offenses in MLS. The Reds are currently tied for fifth in MLS in goals scored this season (16). Toronto does not have an offense that will scare opponents with the non-stop threat of an attack as they have put up the second fewest scoring attempts (95) of any club this season in MLS. Instead, Toronto is incredibly efficient in getting the best scoring opportunities and then taking advantage of said opportunities. The Reds are tied for 11th in on-target scoring attempts (43), which, when you factor in the extremely low number of total scoring attempts that Toronto manages, the Reds find themselves first in the league in accurate shooting percentage (45.3%).
Defensively, Toronto has conceded the second-most goals in MLS this season (22). This can mostly be attributed to the fact that the Reds have the highest shots on target against (67) in the league because, surprisingly, Toronto actually ranks highly in most defensive categories. Toronto is second in the league in one-on-one situations, winning duels 53.4% of the time. The Reds have also been able to cause problems for opponents’ passing games, where they are tied for fifth in interceptions (119) this season. Toronto is also fifth in tackles (212), tied for seventh in successful pressure percentage (30.9%), seventh in blocks (161), and 12th in clearances (204). These are not the numbers we would expect to see from a defense that has conceded the second-most goals in MLS, and that is one of the things that makes the Reds’ defense so intriguing.
Players to Watch
Forward Jesus Jimenez has been the leading offensive threat for Toronto this season with a team-high seven goals scored this season. Jimenez is also the Reds’ leader in total scoring attempts (19) and on-target scoring attempts (10), which gives him the third highest accurate shooting percentage of Toronto starters (52.6%). Midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo has been great for Toronto in setting up the attack for his teammates. Pozuelo is tied for the lead on Toronto in assists (4) and he leads the team in crosses (13).
Pozuelo has been key to the Reds’ defensive success as well this season. He has been of significant help in one-on-one situations, ranking among the club’s best in duel percentage (54.2%) and he leads Toronto in overall duels won (131). Defender Carlos Salcedo has been an important piece of the Toronto defensive side as well, leading the club in interceptions (15). Veteran midfielder Michael Bradley has also been a solid piece for Toronto’s defense. Bradley is fifth on the club in duels won (93) and third in interceptions (22), as well as tackles (19). Starting goalkeeper Alex Bono has allowed 22 goals and made 46 saves for a total save percentage of 67.7%.
This is what I could find on the Lions’ next opponent. Let me know what you think about the upcoming match against Toronto FC in the comments below, and as always, go Orlando!