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In its second match in five days, Orlando City SC (5-7-13, 28 points) fell to Eastern Conference leader Toronto FC (12-7-7, 43 points) 2-1 Wednesday at Camping World Stadium. Tony Rocha made his first career MLS start and Cyle Larin scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
In truth, Toronto were by far the better team and but for some heroics by man of the match Joe Bendik, in the Orlando goal, the score may have been much worse for the home team.
The Lions conceded a soft goal from a throw in when reigning MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco found Tosaint Ricketts in behind the back line. Ricketts fired a clinical shot around past his former Toronto teammate Bendik for the opening goal of the night in the 7th minute. It was a blow to the home team as they had started brightly with Cyle Larin bringing a good save from Toronto keeper Alex Bono in the 5th minute after an errant pass from midfielder Marky Delgado.
Orlando fought back and almost equalised immediately as two minutes later Kevin Molino, making his first start since July 31, flicked a ball in for Larin but the young Canadian striker flicked a right-footed shot just wide of goal when on reflection he may have wished he’d used his left foot.
The Lions found the equalizer in the 56th minute when Luke Boden, who also made his return to the starting lineup, lofted a ball for Larin inside the box. The reigning MLS Rookie of the Year outjumped Toronto defender Josh Williams inside the box to plant a header off the inside corner of the post, across the goal and over the line for the equalizer.
Toronto then took control of the game and Bendik was made to earn his money as he pulled off several fine saves including a world class save in the 66th minute from Jozy Altidore who had come on moments earlier in place of Ricketts. The ball was swung into the area by Nick Hagglund and Altidore must have felt he only needed to get his head on the ball from less than 6 yards to score but somehow Bendik twisted himself to make a remarkable save to prevent Toronto regaining the lead.
Alitore ended up getting the better of the Orlando goalkeeper, though. In the 86th minute, Giovinco played a defence-splitting pass for Altidore, who timed his run to perfection and rounded the onrushing Bendik before tapping into an empty net. The American has now scored in four consecutive games, and has five goals in his last six matches.
As normal with Orlando, they continued the fight and Larin almost leveled things up again in the second minute of added time as he hit a ferocious right footed drive that deflected off the right hand upright. It wasn’t to be though and Orlando, having gone twelve months without a home defeat before losing to Seattle last time out, recorded their second straight home loss.
“It’s a night where I thought we did some really nice things. I’m still seeing improvements, I’m still seeing positive signs that we’re headed in a good direction. Obviously against a team like Toronto, they took some chances. They’re a quality team. They can put you under it for a bit so credit to them,” Head Coach Jason Kreis (pictured above) said. “But I think we did enough in this game that we earned a point. Unfortunately we didn’t get it but on a different night I think we do get it.”
Toronto FC Head Coach Greg Vanney (pictured above) remarked: “I think it was a very tactical match. I thought Orlando did a very good job of shifting a lot of numbers over, specifically to our right side. It forced us to drag a lot of guys over who didn’t handle it very well through various parts of the first half. They created some things that we really had to work through and sort out. That was an interesting tactical challenge. We got the goal early. Sebastian [Giovinco] had a good chance that he normally makes but I think it was awfully bouncy on the turf. But we also gave away a few more chances than we like to give away, but we held in there and it turned out 1-1 as the second half got going and then again we made another tactical shift which was we brought on a midfielder for center-back for various reasons and it started to create some opportunities for us on the attacking end. They were committing a fair amount of numbers forward. I thought they were a group that was at home [and] where they are in the standings they were looking for a win. So if we put another number forward we can maybe catch something on the other side. It’s nice when things work out. I couldn’t be more proud of our group and our team over the last stretch. They’ve dug in in tough circumstances and found a way to win and they played very well at moments and just grinded at moments and I’m super proud of my team. It’s a hard place to play and they are a good team, so we’re happy and fortunate to come away with three [points].”
City faces another short turnaround when they host Kreis’s form team 2015 expansion rival New York City FC on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. ET. before going out on a two-game road trip to Montreal and Los Angeles. Kreis commented about his former club saying “New York does not have a midweek game tonight so it puts us at a bit of a disadvantage, but this is our home and we don’t have to travel so perhaps with recuperation and regeneration we could get ourselves fresh. The question about New York – for me, it’s any other game. I have no particular love for their club or no particular fantastic remembrance for it so for me it’s just another opponent.”
TOR – Tosaint Ricketts (Sebastian Giovinco) 7’
ORL – Cyle Larin (Luke Boden) 56’
TOR – Jozy Altidore (Sebastian Giovinco) 86’
TOR – Marko Delgado (Yellow Card) 52’
ORL – Seb Hines (Yellow Card) 57’
ORL – David Mateos (Yellow Card) 82’
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Luke Boden, Seb Hines (David Mateos 81’), Tommy Redding, Kevin Alston, M Tony Rocha, Antonio Nocerino (Servando Carrasco 69’), Kevin Molino (Brek Shea 75’), Kaká, Matías Pérez García, F Cyle Larin
Substitutes Not Used: GK Earl Edwards Jr., D Mikey Ambrose, F Carlos Rivas, Júlio Baptista
Toronto FC – GK Alex Bono, D Josh Williams (Will Johnson 75’), Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund, M Marko Delgado, Jay Chapman (Eriq Zavaleta 46’), Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Daniel Lovitz, F Tosaint Ricketts (Jozy Altidore 58’), Sebastian Giovinco
Substitutes Not Used: GK Quillan Roberts, D Justin Morrow, F Tsubasa Endoh, Jordan Hamilton
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com