1 - Points And Performances
The last time these two teams met, Lions head coach Jason Kreis lamented the 2-1 loss and the first half performance that saw Toronto score twice and control much of the play before Kaká scored on the stroke of halftime. The second half saw City control possession and outshoot Toronto, 6-2, with the Reds surviving two glorious chances for the Lions.
In City’s last game, though, the Lions were pleased to leave Real Salt Lake with three points despite a forgettable performance on the pitch. Will Johnson’s early tally off a rebound and just two saves from Joe Bendik were enough for the win despite RSL dominating possession and outshooting Orlando City, though the Lions had more shots on target.
Three points on Friday helped the Lions keep pace with NYCFC and Chicago, which both won last week.
2 - Turning Tables
Toronto FC is coming off its third loss of the season and its second in four games. After falling at the New England Revolution, 3-0, Toronto bounced back with two home wins over D.C. United and New England, but then lost at FC Dallas, 3-1.
Orlando City, meanwhile, returns home following a 10-day, three-game, four-point road trip. A last-second draw in Seattle and a hard-fought win in Salt Lake sandwiched a loss at now-first-place Chicago. The Lions have just one loss in their last six games and are 2-1-3 in that span.
3 - Keeping The Sheets Clean
Orlando City picked up its fifth clean sheet victory of the season Friday in Utah. It was City’s third 1-0 win of the season, which ties the franchise MLS record set in 2015, when the Lions had six clean sheet victories. Five of Orlando City’s first six MLS wins were all clean sheet victories and three of those were at home.
4 - Light At Tunnel's End
Orlando City is approaching the end of a stretch of six games in 22 days. City began the stretch on June 14 in U.S. Open Cup before hosting Montreal three days later. Then came a three- game road trip that saw the Lions travel 9,080 miles and change time zones five times over a 10-day span. The Lions’ flights from Orlando to Seattle, Seattle to Chicago and Salt Lake to Orlando were charter flights, the first one because of a flight cancellation.
Following Wednesday the Lions will have 15 days off between games, as they don’t play again until Friday, July 21, when Atlanta United FC visits Orlando City Stadium for the first match of a home-and-home series. City then visits Atlanta on Saturday, July 29, beginning another three-game road trip that will take them to Montreal and New York.
5 - Closer Than The Experts Think
Toronto FC may hold the all-time series, 5-1-1, but three of those wins came in 2015. Orlando City’s first win over Toronto came on June 25, 2016, when Kaká scored the game-winning PK in the 10th minute of stoppage time. Toronto then took a 2-1 decision with a late goal from Jozy Altidore despite a strong outing from the Lions on Aug. 24. The teams then split two points in a scoreless draw on Sept. 28.
The Reds won the first meeting of the season in another closely contested match that saw City outshoot Toronto nearly 2-1.
6 - Games Of Consequence
This is Orlando City’s 12th match against an Eastern Conference rival but it is one of the first true six-point games of the season. Toronto FC enters the match hoping to regain the league’s best record while Orlando City enters looking to distance itself from sixth-place Columbus and pull within three points of the Reds.
7 - Canadian Kid
Cyle Larin has two goals and an assist in his last four games against Toronto FC. The Brampton, Ontario, native set up Kaká’s strike in first-half stoppage time on May 3 and scored goals in each of the first two meetings of 2016.
In the only meeting of this season, Larin had two golden opportunities to equalize in the second half. Jason Kreis said, “You look back at that game, Cyle had two point-blank chances that Cyle never misses. Unfortunately, he didn’t take them in that game but maybe he was saving them for this one.”