Orlando City

Orlando City at Toronto FC: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against Toronto FC this Saturday in Canada?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City heads North of the border to take on Toronto FC in the final regular-season match of 2023. Regardless of Saturday’s result, the Lions have already secured second place in both the Eastern Conference and all of Major League Soccer. The only thing left to be determined is which club Orlando City will face in the first round of the playoffs.

Before we find out, the Lions still need to take care of business against bottom-of-the-table Toronto. This match is an opportunity for Orlando City to once again set a club record for wins and points in a season. What do the Lions need to do to secure all three points on the road in the Great White North?

Score Early, Score Often

Sometimes it takes Orlando City a while to get on the board. Toronto presents a chance for the Lions to buck that trend. Toronto has leaked goals all season, scoring 26 goals but allowing 57 for a -31 goal differential. I’m no math major, but that is really bad. In fact, Toronto has allowed at least three goals in the club’s last five matches. 

Oscar Pareja will most certainly like to get his first-team players a run out, but will also want to get them some rest for the playoffs. If Orlando City can jump out to a multi-goal lead, it will allow for more substitutions earlier on. This also gets the backups more time heading into the playoffs. Look for Duncan McGuire, Ivan Angulo, and Facundo Torres to have chances early. Hopefully, they can finish those chances and roll on to victory.

A Clean Sheet for El Pulpo

As I mentioned above, Toronto doesn’t score many goals, with 26 in 33 matches for a 0.78 rate per match. Looking at the same five matches where the club gave up 16 goals, Toronto only scored two goals — both against FC Cincinnati. Orlando City is tied for the sixth-best defense with only 39 goals allowed in 33 matches. That is possible thanks to a solid back line, one of the best defensive midfield pairings in the league, and Pedro Gallese in goal. 

Gallese already has a record number of clean sheets for himself this season, but it is certainly possible for El Pulpo to add another given Toronto’s lack of scoring prowess. The play of those in front of Gallese will determine how hard he has to work for the clean sheet. I feel good about his chances regardless. 

Backups Do the Job

I mentioned that Pareja will most likely want to get the starters some rest, and get the backups some time heading into the playoffs. One thing a great playoff team does is to not have a big dropoff when the substitutes come on. That is what I will be looking for against Toronto.

We may see some players who have been backups get the start if a normal starter is nursing a knock from training, but it doesn’t matter when they get on the pitch, just what they do when they are in the match. I fully expect to see Felipe, Ramiro Enrique, Michael Halliday, Kyle Smith, and Antonio Carlos — yes, I think Rodrigo Schlegel will get the start — put in more minutes than usual. Look for quality of play from those subs.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday in Toronto. Let’s hope the Lions finish the season strong. Vamos Orlando!


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