Heading into the final dozen matches of the season, Orlando City were looking to capitalize on their 5 - 2 victory over Columbus last Saturday as they went up to Toronto for a big midweek match against Toronto FC on Wednesday night. There have been times that Orlando City have looked marvelous this season--times when they have made "the beautiful game" look easy. Last night, however, they gave an effortless performance on defense and surrendered four goals in an ugly loss to a Toronto team that were without their biggest headline star, Jozy Altidore.
The game started off on a sour note as Aurelien Collin, normally the most solid defender for Orlando City, misjudged a slide tackle on Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco inside the area and allowed the wiry Italian a PK that started the scoring. Luke Boden leveled the score a few minutes later with a powerful shot that got past Toronto keeper Joe Bendik. But in the second half it was all Toronto, as Giovinco added two more (another great free kick goal over the wall and off the near post in the 56th and a screaming shot from point-blank range in the 88th) and Collen Warner added a goal in the 81st.
Orlando City looked dazed and confused without Kaka on the pitch. To be fair, the club are quite shorthanded with a number of players sidelined from injury and the latest two signings unable to be in town to begin contributing due to coming from international sides residences. But there were times it looked like Orlando City had Jeff Radcliffe, Tom Traxler, and this blogger out on the pitch in defending roles instead of professional players. The Lions were giving away possession and permitting counter-attacks with disturbing regularity, resulting not only in the 4 - 1 score line but also a 21 - 5 advantage in shots by Toronto.
Orlando City were outplayed, outhustled, and outmatched by Toronto on the pitch last night, continuing the "cold" welcome to MLS that Canadian teams have extended the Lions this season, as their record against Canadian sides is now 0 - 4 - 1 on the year.
Fortunately for fans and players alike, there's not much time to dwell on the disappointing loss, as Philadelphia Union are in town on Saturday for a match. As we are in the thick of summer storm season, our tailgate crew is opting for quicker meals that can be cooked between rain showers. Thus, this week we are going with the classic Philly Cheesesteak.
Cheesesteaks on the grill, you ask? Well, yes and no. We are cheating by cooking up the meat and the veggies the night before and re-heating them in aluminum pans on the grill. And we're also improving on the original cheesesteak by using actual cheese instead of that god-awful Cheese-Whiz stuff that everyone outside Philadelphia outgrows once they get to double-digits in age. We're also going to have rolls slathered in garlic butter and toasted on the grill for our sandwiches. In addition, we're serving up some Herr's chips and Tastykake desserts, both of which have Philadelphia origins.
Hopefully the grill will work its magic and take the fight out of Philly before they ever hit the pitch. The way Orlando City have played in the last six weeks (with the exception of the flicker of hope they showed against Columbus last Saturday), the lads on the pitch need all the help they can get from us to defeat any opponent they face.
With some luck the team may yet turn it around and haul themselves back above the red line and into the playoff race (cue Jim Mora), but for now it looks like the highlight of every Orlando City fan's week is seeing what The Lion's Teeth crew have planned for a tailgate. We will be there doing what we can to help fans enjoy the pre-game. Then it's up to the coaches and players to be sure that fans go home happy after the match. Vamos Olrando! Let's defy expectations and extend Orlando City's season past the end of October.