ORLANDO – Toronto FC played another home game in Orlando’s Exploria Stadium on Saturday which hardly seemed fair as the “away team” was Orlando City SC. The Lions (4-1-3) defeated the Reds (1-5-2) 3-2 in an away game at Orlando’s home stadium.
The MLS really tried their best to make the Reds feel at home, with their normal advertising, Toronto opener graphics on the scoreboard, as well as playing the teams fight song after the national anthems. There were no fans in attendance, but Fans fired fireworks from the street outside of the stadium through the match, especially when Orlando scored.
With this match happening on th first observance of the Juneteenth federal holiday, a rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ performed by Alicia Keyes wa played.
The match opened with a Tesho Akindele score in less than a minute. Andrés Perea found Mauricio Pereyra up the middle, who took one touch before threading the needle to find a running Tesho Akindele. The front man needed just one touch to slot home the finish in the first minute of play.
Nani Doubled the Orlando score with a header off of a perfect cross from Sylvester Van der Water for a 2-0 score in the 8th minute.
Toronto pulled one back through Ayo Akinola, forcing a header of his own over the goal-line when the combination of Alejandro Pozuelo and Richie Laryea down the left saw a rebound loop into the air.
Before the half, Alejandro Pozuelo took a ball deep and served it to Jonathan Osorio to equalize.
In the second half, Orlando regained the lead after a Reds turnover rolled to Junior Urso’s foot. Urso payed a combination with Chris Mueller before knocking it past Toronto’s Quinten Westberg for the lead.
Toronto Head Coach Chris Amas commented on th loss.
“We dig ourselves a hole.” Said Armas. ”We fight back. We push the game. We create chances. We hit the post… it’s there. There’s more than enough there. We’ve got to figure that out and I will because the solution’s there.”
While Orlando’s Oscar Pareja is happy with th win, of course, but with the team in mourning, there was some seriousness to his comments.
“Great victory. First of all, we want to send a message to the people who have lost family members during the past year.” Said Pareja. ”Today was an emotional day for us and we want to share this joy that we have with Rodrigo [Schlegel] and his family. We dedicate this triumph to him, his family. Regarding the game, it was an exceptional performance for us. Today we played against a very good team and especially in the second half we had the personality to resolve the game. We scored three goals today, good sensations, a great victory. Emotional for us, but a great victory, a great three points.”
The match also marked the return of young phenom Daryl Duke to duty wit Orlando after time in Europe and with the USMNT. Dike payed about 40 minutes with no points or assisted, but is recovering from a grueling travel and play schedule.
Orlando has a quick turn around as the face the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday night back at Exploria. It will be the first Orlando City home game with at full capacity.
Toronto c heads to Nashville to face Nashville SC on Wednesday June 23rd.