Orlando City-Toronto FC Preview
Saturday's return visit from Orlando City SC may come at an opportune time for Toronto FC.
Since cruising to a 4-1 win when these struggling clubs squared off at BMO Field on Aug. 5, the Reds have been outscored 6-1 in consecutive losses to Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls. It's Toronto's first losing streak in MLS play since a four-game skid March 14-April 18.
Orlando City (7-11-7) also enters in a rut, having mustered one goal over an 0-2-1 stretch beginning with that loss in Toronto. The Lions are 1-5-1 over their last seven league games yet still sit tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference.
"It's strange that we're now in a situation where we're not worse off than we were three weeks ago, in terms of points," coach Adrian Heath told the team's official website. "We're still within a shout of (the playoffs), and we have to believe that every time we play."
Heath's side still faces plenty of obstacles. The Lions have played four more games than Montreal, also with 28 points, and have lost four straight road matches across all competitions following Sunday's 4-0 drubbing by Seattle. They'll also be down two starters Saturday in midfielder Darwin Ceren and defender Tyler Turner, both of whom were assessed red cards against the Sounders.
Toronto (9-10-4), three points ahead of the Lions in fifth, looks to bounce back against an opponent it's soundly beaten twice this season. The Reds recorded a 2-0 win in Orlando on April 26 behind Jozy Altidore's two goals.
Sebastian Giovinco had a hat trick in the previous meeting and ranks second in MLS with a club-record 16 goals, eight of which have come over the last seven games. The MVP candidate faces an Orlando City squad that's surrendered 13 in its past three on the road.
"I'm looking forward to playing them again," he told the team's official website.
Orlando City hasn't received production of late from its top two strikers. Cyle Larin hasn't scored in three consecutive games after having five goals in his previous two. Kaka, who missed the Aug. 5 matchup due to injury, is scoreless in five straight.
Larin's 11 goals matches the MLS rookie record, one the Ontario native gets another chance to break in his home city.
Toronto has permitted three or more goals in six of its last eight league games and 41 for the season, though it's allowed 11 in going 5-3-1 at home.