Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday afternoon match-up between Orlando City (5-4-2, 17 points) and Toronto FC (3-6-2, 11 points) at BMO Field (3 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). It’s the first of two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals this season. The Reds will make the return trip to Orlando on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
Toronto leads the very lopsided all-time series, 8-4-3, and is 4-1-3 against the Lions at home, but that includes its only “home” loss in the series at Exploria Stadium last season. The Reds are 4-0-3 against the Lions in Toronto.
Last season was Orlando’s most successful in the all-time series, with the Lions going 2-0-1 in three meetings with Toronto FC. The last time the Lions visited Toronto, the teams played to a 1-1 draw at BMO Field on July 17, 2021. Jozy Altidore came off the bench to score the opener but minutes later Nani equalized from the penalty spot. Benji Michel drew the penalty, which was originally ruled a foul on the Orlando winger but was overturned after video review by referee Marcos de Oliveira.
The other Toronto “home match” in the season series last year came on June 19 at Exploria Stadium as the Reds dealt with pandemic restrictions in Canada that forced the team to play home games in the United States. Orlando City built a 2-0 early lead on goals by Tesho Akindele and Nani, only to see Toronto tie the match by halftime on goals by Ayo Akinola and Jonathan Osorio. Junior Urso scored late to lift the Lions to a 3-2 victory. The teams first met last season on May 22 with Orlando City claiming a 1-0 win on Akindele’s goal.
The teams did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic affecting the schedule. Prior to the MLS stoppage for the pandemic, the teams last met in Toronto on Aug. 10, 2019 with the Lions grabbing a point at BMO Field in a 1-1 draw — just Orlando’s second ever road result in the series. Michel opened the scoring in the 69th minute but the Reds equalized off a scramble following a set piece in the 77th. The other match-up between the sides that season came on May 4, 2019, when the Reds walked out of Orlando with a 2-0 win on goals by Osorio and Jay Chapman.
The teams split their season series in 2018. 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 2018 meeting in Toronto saw the Reds get a 2-1 win at BMO Field on Ryan Telfer’s 87th-minute goal.
Toronto shredded Orlando in a 3-1 win on July 5, 2017. 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.
Orlando City has lost two of its last three regular-season matches and has attempted only 12 shots during that stretch, putting just five on target. Seven of the 12 shots and four of the shots on target came against expansion Charlotte. The Lions played much better in a 2-1 U.S. Open Cup win on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Union. However, it will be interesting to see if Orlando can create chances — and get shots off — in the team’s return to league play. The Lions are 2-1-2 on the road this season but the one loss came in Orlando’s most recent away game, one week ago in Montreal in an abysmal performance.
Toronto is 3-2-0 at home in 2022, earning all three of its wins to date. These include victories over the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC. However, the Reds have lost their last four matches. One advantage for Toronto is that it has been off since Sunday, while Orlando City played quite a few starters Tuesday night. The Reds were shut out 1-0 at Vancouver in their last match on Sunday.
Bob Bradley is Toronto’s new head coach after leaving LAFC. But the mission for Orlando City remains largely the same — starve Alejandro Pozuelo of the ball and defend him with numbers, forcing Toronto’s attack into the wide areas. Unfortunately, the Reds also have a new weapon in Jesus Jimenez, who is tied for the league lead in goals, with seven. Pozuelo and Osorio each have two goals and four assists on the year, but Osorio has been injured recently. Orlando City will also need to deal with Michael Bradley, who has played well in the middle of the park during his career in Toronto.
“Toronto, like always, is going to be a difficult rival. Today, the message is the same [as it has been all this week]: We cannot stay here and we have to move on now and think about [the match ahead],” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said following Tuesday’s Open Cup victory. “[Toronto] have changed the model a few times, rotating some players due to some difficulties that they have had with injuries. Like us, they’re trying to find the team and we’re all dealing with that at this stage of the season.”
According to the game notes for this match, Orlando City will be without Antonio Carlos, (thigh) and Silvester van der Water (lower leg). Michel (lower leg) has been listed as questionable and Akindele is off the injury report for the first time in a couple of weeks. Toronto lists the following players as out: Kadin Chung (lower body), Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty (lower body), Chris Mavinga (lower body), Noble Okello (lower body), and Osorio (lower body). In addition, Jacob Shaffelburg (lower body) is questionable. Yes, Toronto has adopted the annoying habit of calling everything a lower body injury, while Orlando has graduated to admitting when it’s leg-related but then giving the vague “lower leg” designation. Is it an ankle? A foot? A toe? A shin? A knee? No one is saying. Stop asking.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more information about the Reds from Tomas Karageorgos from Waking the Red, SBNation’s Toronto FC blog.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and final score predictions.
- Our Dave Rohe outlined his three keys to victory for Orlando City.
- Our Josh Munsey provided a scouting report on Toronto FC.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo,
Attacking Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, Junior Urso.
Forward: Ercan Kara.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Thomas Williams, Sebas Mendez, Joey DeZart, Jake Mulraney, Jack Lynn, Alexandre Pato.
Goalkeeper: Alex Bono.
Defenders: Luca Petrasso, Carlos Salcedo, Lukas MacNaughton, Kosi Thompson.
Midfielders: Deandre Kerr, Michael Bradley, Ralph Priso.
Forwards: Jayden Nelson, Jesus Jimenez, Jordan Perruzza.
Bench: Quentin Westberg, Shane O’Neill, Adam Pearlman, Themi Antonoglou, Paul Rothrock, Ayo Akinola.
Ref: Nima Saghafi.
AR1: Andrew Bigelow.
AR2: Diego Blas.
4th: Fabrizio Stasolla.
VAR: Kevin Stott.
AVAR: Craig Lowry.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3 p.m. ET.
Venue: BMO Field — Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) and locally on the LionNation app.
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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