Orlando City had yet another sluggish road effort and failed to come away with a result in a match against an Eastern Conference opponent, falling at Toronto FC, 4-1.
Playing without Kaká, who picked up a knock against Columbus, the Lions were unable to maintain any semblance of possession, complete more than a pass or two forward, or get on the end of passes and crosses in the final third.
Sebastian Giovinco scored a hat trick — getting one from the spot, one on a free kick, and one on a late counter — and Collen Warner added insurance late to offset Luke Boden’s first MLS goal. Games are running out for Orlando City to defy expectations and make the playoffs as an expansion team.
The Lions have now conceded 18 goals in the last six matches and have won just once in the last seven outings. Against Canadian teams, Orlando has been a particularly dire 0-4-1.
Adrian Heath again deployed the 4-3-3 that worked so well against Columbus, but with Eric Avila at right wing for the injured Kaká. It didn’t work out quite so well this time.
Just four minutes into the match, Cyle Larin nearly set the rookie goal-scoring record in front of his friends and family, coming free and firing at close range, only to be denied by a diving Joe Bendik.
Toronto soon got on the board at 12 minutes with a Giovinco penalty after the Toronto DP drew a foul in the box on Aurelien Collin. City’s defender made an ill-advised slide tackle to try to dispossess the Atomic Ant on a counter attack that started with a bad turnover by Tyler Turner on the right side in the attacking half. The right back had two options and misplayed it only to turn it over, igniting the deadly break.
The Lions leveled just five minutes later when Cristian Higuita found Boden at the top of the box. Bodz took a touch with his right and settled it to his left, curling in a beautiful shot that Bendik barely got a touch on but could not keep out.
From that point on, Toronto kept the pressure on Orlando throughout the match. The Lions had trouble possessing and when they did, they gave it right back cheaply. Marky Delgado missed two good chances to extend the Reds’ lead.
Tally Hall kept the game even at 1-1 by denying a 42nd-minute break by Giovinco, who took a gorgeous 25-yard through ball from Benoit Cheyrou and was in free. Hall made himself big and kept the scoreline where it was as the teams went to the break all even.
In the second half, it was more of the same. Orlando had no movement or urgency and conceded possession far too easily, without looking the least bit dangerous on the few counter attacks they sprung.
Giovinco broke the tie with a free kick goal off the left post in the 56th minute after he was fouled just above the box by Darwin Ceren, who was booked for the infraction. Warner missed a sitter four minutes later off a Jonathan Osorio pass. Alone in front, with only Hall to beat, Warner sent the ball well over the bar.
Orlando never seriously threatened to level things up again and Warner scored off a short corner in the 81st minute. Giovinco’s short pass went to Osorio, who abused Seb Hines and came free, chipping it to the far post for an unmarked Warner as Boden scrambled to try to get back. That effectively sealed it, although Giovinco added a third on a late counter attack to provide the final margin.
City likely expected to get a result with Toronto missing Jozy Altidore (red card suspension) and Michael Bradley (leg injury), but the team lacked urgency and the Lions are not good enough or deep enough right now to play that way.
Orlando is back in action Saturday night when the Philadelphia Union visits the Citrus Bowl at 7:30 p.m.