With their Open Cup dreams now dashed, Orlando City must turn around and shift all focus to the playoff chase, when they take the stage at BMO Field on Saturday night to face Canadian foes Toronto FC (7:30 p.m. ET, My65 and YouTube TV).
The Lions enter play this weekend just two spots out of the Eastern Conference playoffs, trailing 8th place Toronto by three points. Orlando Head Coach James O’Connor lamented on Thursday just how important it is that his side can pick up their heads after a bitter loss and take care of business now in MLS play.
“It’s disappointing, but again we’re past it now, we need to get over it and move on and focus on Toronto,” O’Connor said. “We’ve said, I think, over the last 10 league games we’ve averaged 1.4 [points per game] and that’s something I’m going to keep driving home.”
Orlando City has never beaten Toronto FC at BMO Field, coming in with an 0-4-1 record all-time and having lost each of their last two trips by 2-1 scorelines. The Lions are also winless against Toronto on the season following their 2-0 loss at Exploria Stadium back in May.
“They have a lot of attacking options, they’ve got [Jozy] Altidore, [Alejandro] Pozuelo, [Michael] Bradley. They’ve got a lot of quality, I mean they’ve obviously got some really good players, so I don’t think it will be just one specific area,” O’Connor said about the biggest threat that Toronto poses in this matchup. “We are trying to make sure that there is an understanding of attacking principles and make sure that we have a good idea of what we want to do when we have the ball. I think like everywhere, there is a balance to everything, we just need to make sure that we are focused on what we need to do to go and get a positive result there.”
Despite all of that talent, Toronto themselves sit on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, trailing behind the New England Revolution by just one point for the 7th and final playoff spot in the East, so there will be plenty at stake for them as well.
O’Connor will near a full squad available for selection. Sebas Mendez, Joao Moutinho, and newly-signed Designated Player Mauricio Pereyra, however, are among the few that won’t feature in Saturday’s contest.
Mendez is suspended for yellow card accumulation, while Moutinho is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Pereyra is still being patiently worked into the squad and will be held back by coach’s decision, according to O’Connor.
That could mean returns to the lineup for both Uri Rosell and Danilo Acosta.
Keys to the Game
1. Stay compact. The Lions have done a great job at staying tight and not letting teams stretch them apart, and with the depth of talent that Toronto has up top, that’ll be a crucial factor for Orlando City in keeping the Reds off the board in this game, or at least for as long as possible.
2. Finish your chances. The Lions lost the first matchup in May largely because they failed to capitalize on any of their many chances early in the game before Toronto bagged a pair of goals and all three points. If the balls lands at Dom Dwyer‘s feet in the box with a clear shot on goal, whether or not Orlando walks away with a result in the game could come down to that moment.
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