Orlando City ends losing streak with 2-1 win over Toronto

Orlando City Soccer got back to winning ways in James O’Connor’s first home game as the new Head Coach of the Lions.

O’Connor rang the changes after his first game in charge saw the team lose 4-1 to Los Angeles FC last week. The most surprising change came as Earl Edwards Jr. replaced Joe Bendik in goal as well as four other starting changes that saw Chris Schuler, Will Johnson, Mohamed El-Munir and Tony Rocha in the line up. It was a much needed shake up and one that sent out the message to the players that everyone gets a fresh start and a chance to impress.

It certainly had an effect as the team, after a cautious start, began to play more fluidly.  Orlando opened the scoring in the 34th minute as a Dom Dwyer shot from outside the penalty box forced Toronto keeper Alex Bono to flick the ball high into the air.  Chris Schuler was first to the ball and he leapt high to power a downward header past Bono and into the net.

It was a goal that had been threatening as Orlando started to take charge of the game. In the 20th minute, fresh from World Cup duties with Peru, Yoshimar Yotún almost caught Bono napping as he scrambled to turn aside Yotún’s long range effort from near the half way line.  Four minutes later, Chris Mueller wasted a golden opportunity to give Orlando the lead as Sacha Kljestan found the 22 year old completely unmarked on the edge of the penalty box “D.” Mueller cut back onto his left foot but then fired his shot just over the top of the left hand upright.

Seconds later Orlando had a close escape as a lovely turn by Justin Morrow released Sebastian Giovinco on the edge of the box and he fired his shot just past the nearside post.

Half Time: Orlando City 1 Toronto FC 0

Things got better for the men in purple straight after half time as Dom Dwyer literally scorched the net with a blistering drive to double the advantage in the 48th minute. Receiving the ball from R.J. Allen approximately 35 yards from goal, Dwyer drove forward a few yards towards the Wall end before unleashing an unstoppable left footed thunderbolt to the left hand side of the net that had the Orlando fans in an hysterical state. Not since the 6th May, when Orlando beat Real Salt Lake 3-1, had their side enjoyed a two goal advantage in any match.

Toronto then pushed forward and in the 59th minute, Michael Bradley played a fine long pass from inside his own half, over Schuler’s head, to the waiting Giovinco with a clean run through on goal. Edwards came out to meet him and blocked the Italian’s shot as the whole of Orlando breathed a sigh of relief. Edwards again came to the rescue in the 70th minute, as substitute Jay Chapman marched through the right hand side of the Orlando defence only for Edwards to smartly tidy up and clear the danger.

The visitors did get on the score sheet four minutes into added on time as a Giovinco free kick was turned home by Nick Hagglund as Orlando failed to clear their lines but it was too little too late as the Lions finally overcame their nine game losing streak.

After the game James O’Connor said: “Obviously delighted that we were able to win. It’s really important that we got a win. There were some lovely passages, some really good movement. I thought we created a number of opportunities. We just need to be a little bit more clinical. But we can be really proud of the players’ effort tonight. I thought the level of commitment and the effort from the players was really, really good tonight.”

The Lions face a quick turnaround as they visit the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, July 18, in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal. City continues MLS play when it visits Columbus on Saturday before returning to Orlando City Stadium to host New York City FC on Thursday, July 26.

Tickets to all City home matches are available at OrlandoCitySC.com or by calling 855-ORL-CITY.

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Earl Edwards, Jr., D Mohamed El-Munir, Amro Tarek, Chris Schuler, RJ Allen, M Tony Rocha (Dillon Powers 56’), Will Johnson (Donny Toia 77’), Yoshimar Yotún, ⓒ Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller, F Dom Dwyer (Stéfano Pinho 86’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Joe Bendik, D Shane O’Neill, M Josué Colmán, Cam Lindley

Toronto FC – GK Alex Bono, D Eriq Zavaleta, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow, M Nicolas Hasler (Tosaint Ricketts 75’), Ryan Telfer (Jay Chapman 46’), Michael Bradley (Liam Fraser 67’), Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, F Jordan Hamilton, Sebastian Giovinco

Substitutes Not Used: GK Clint Irwin, D Ashtone Morgan, F Jozy Altidore, Ayo Akinola

Attendance: 23,420

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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