Orlando City will have a quick turnaround after a 1-0 home loss to rival club Atlanta United when the Lions take on Toronto FC this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. under the lights of Exploria Stadium. Toronto currently sits 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 9-15-7 record and 34 points, which almost puts the Reds out of playoff consideration as they are seven points behind the seventh place Columbus Crew with three games left on their schedule. Let’s take a deep dive into the numbers behind Toronto FC.
Toronto has largely outperformed offensively, sitting tied for eighth in goals scored (49) for a side that has the 24th-most total scoring attempts (344) of any MLS squad this season. Despite producing so few total scoring attempts, the Reds are tied for 11th in on-target scoring attempts (136), which is why they have tied for the second-best accurate shooting percentage (39.5%) in the league. A good word to describe the Toronto offense, then, would be ‘efficient.’ The Reds have the sixth-best goals per shot on target (0.33), meaning that when they do get their chances to put the ball in the back of the net, they often convert on such opportunities. Toronto also has the third-best Goals - Expected Goals (+8.3), adding more to the idea of extreme efficiency and overachievement for this Toronto side. The attacking Reds players are fueled by a side that ranks tied 14th in assists (42), 11th in goal-creating actions (74), and sixth in accurate forward zone passes (6,114).
The Toronto defense has been confusing this season, to say the least. The Reds have allowed the third-most goals (57) on the third-most shots on target against (165), which would make sense in explaining why they have conceded so many goals this season. However, if you look at the rest of the defensive statistics for Toronto, the team actually appears to have a surprisingly quality defense. The Toronto defense ranks in the top 10 in MLS in the majority of defensive categories. In fact, other than goals and on-target shots against, they are only outside the top 10 in clearances (524), in which the Reds rank 17th. They sit in the top 10 in interceptions (third, 507), pressures (fourth, 4,547), successful pressure percentage (fourth, 30.7%), blocks (fifth, 449), and tackles (eighth, 527). It will be important for the Lions to be sharp on offense on Saturday and to not underestimate Toronto’s defense.
Players to Watch
Forward Jesus Jimenez has provided a consistent offensive presence for Toronto throughout the season. Jimenez is tied for first in goals (9) and total scoring attempts (48). However, he has struggled to put many accurate scoring opportunities together, ranking second among Toronto players in on-target scoring attempts (18) and seventh in accurate shooting percentage (37.5%) among players with at least 10 total scoring attempts. Jonathan Osorio is having a career year for Toronto, sitting tied with Jiminez on nine goals and leading the team with six assists, but he’s been out recently with an upper body injury.
Midfielder Lorenzo Insigne signed with Toronto before the start of the season, however, he had to wait until July 1 to formally join the team as he was waiting for his previous contract with Serie A side Napoli to expire. Insigne has provided an immediate spark to the Toronto offense since playing his first game on July 23, scoring the fourth-most goals (6) and ranking second in total scoring attempts (43) among his fellow Reds. Fellow Italian import Federico Bernardeschi has been more effective, with eight goals — third most on the team — and three assists in just 10 games. Veteran midfielder Michael Bradley has created opportunities for the likes of Jimenez and Insigne all season long, leading the club in shot-creating actions (57) and tying for the lead in goal-creating actions (9).
Bradley has provided a well-rounded defensive presence for Toronto this year, as he is making plays up and down the pitch. He is first in tackles (54) and interceptions (34), second in pressures (416), fourth in blocks (35), and sixth in clearances (37). Meanwhile, defender Shane O’Neill, a former Lion, has played savior many times for the Reds’ defense, as he has helped the club evade dangerous scoring chances for the opposition. O'Neill is first in blocks (46), second in clearances (75), and tied for second in interceptions (29). Goalkeeper Alex Bono has started 24 matches for Toronto this year, conceding 42 goals and making 86 saves for a save percentage of 67.2%. Quentin Westberg has been the second-most used option at goalkeeper, starting in seven matches, including the last match against Atlanta United, allowing 15 goals and making 24 saves this year for a save percentage of 61.5%.
That’s what I found on Toronto FC. Let me know what you think about the upcoming match on Saturday in the comments and, as always, go Orlando!