Orlando City ends long loss streak with home win over Toronto FC
Chris Schuler and Chris Mueller embrace after the opening goal against Toronto | Source: MLS Soccer

Orlando bagged three points for the first time in over two months with a win over Toronto FC on Saturday night. This win saw a strong shake-up with the starting 11 and a drastic style change from the last few months.

First Half:

Orlando City came out with a new look 4-3-3 that had aspects of James O’Connor’s style but with most of the best available players. The home side looked to control most of the opening minutes but with few good attacks forward from either side. Some passages of play forward from both teams ended in scrappy fouls or passes that could not find the last attacker. Both sides looked comfortable backward to start the match.

About 20 minutes in a blast from Yoshi Yotun near half field forced a nervy save from Alex Bono, one of the first chances for Orlando City. The Lions continued to press into the box in the next few minutes especially through Chris Mueller. His long runs in from the wing stretched out the Toronto backline and Mueller had a golden opportunity to score the opener in the 24th minute off a misplayed ball in the midfield that Sacha Kljestan took advantage of.

Just moments after Orlando’s chance, Toronto pieced together a beautiful attacking move through Justin Morrow as he spun past Orlando defenders and placed a pass into Jordan Hamilton. The young Canadian was able to place a perfect backheel directly to Sebastian Giovinco whos first time effort was just wide of the post.

In the 34th minute, Dom Dwyer found himself with free space outside of the 18-yard box and let one loose. The powerful shot was mishandled by Bono and the onrushing Chris Schuler was able to head it home for the 1-0 lead.

Giovinco dribbles at Will Johnson | Source: The Globe and Mail
Giovinco dribbles at Will Johnson | Source: The Globe and Mail

Second Half:

The second half looked to bring more of the same with Orlando City pressing hard into Toronto’s box but this time the home side struck quickly. Mueller played a pass from the right wing into Dwyer who was able to bring it closer to the center of the top of the box and let another shot loose. This time Bono was not getting onto it as the perfectly placed and powerfully hit shot sunk into the bottom left corner to give the Lions the 2-0 lead.

The rest of the half was trading possession and forcing attacks from both sides with neither getting too many great looks at goal too often. But the second half was also where Earl Edwards Jr. could show off his ability. In the 57th minute Edwards pulled off a great save to keep the two-goal lead but it was the save just two minutes later that would sing his praises. In the 59th minute, a perfect over the top ball found an even better first touch from Giovinco, but Edwards rushed out to meet him near the top of the box and got big to stop what surely looked like an easy goal.

Toronto did score at the very death of the game to break Orlando’s clean sheet. A late foul just outside the box near the right corner gave Giovinco a free kick to send into the box. His ball found Nick Hagglund at the far post who was able to send it home to cut the deficit in half.

But this would be one of the last moments of the match as soon after the restart Allen Chapman would blow the full-time whistle.

Orlando City’s next match is on the road in Philadelphia for a US Open Cup quarter-final, their first USOC match under the new manager. Toronto also has a midweek cup clash but in the Canadian Championship semi-final on the road against the Ottawa Fury.