Toronto FC got the job done last night with a 3-0 win over Orlando City but for the most part it was far from a pretty win. The scoreline flattered Toronto who could well have been out of things by the half time break if Orlando had managed to turn home a couple of their quality chances. The team used a strong second half performance coupled with a penalty and sending off to Orlando to make the end result look far more convincing than it actually was.
Along the way the coaches got another chance to evaluate the players who are battling for contracts and increased playing time as all six players without contracts got involved in the action at some point. So who did enough to help their cause and who will be looking to put this performance behind them?
Taylor Morgan: his stock rose once again with another high effort performance. He came on for Justin Braun at the half and actually looked a lot better than the verteran forward did at any point in the first half. Morgan was lively and proved willing to press the Orlando defenders and keeper all the way up the field never just allowing them to be comfortable in possession. He also found his way on to the score sheet with an impressive run that saw him latch on to a through ball from Luis Silva, step over a challenge from Orlando's last defender, round the keeper and finally slot it home with a nice calm finish. He showed composure on the ball the entire run and it was the kind of goal that you love to see your forwards scoring as he was able to capitalize on the quick counter.
Jonothan Osorio: He did not get the longest run out in the game coming on for just over 10 minutes but he made the most of the playing time that the coaching staff handed him. If he looked composed and calm in the first game against Columbus he took it to another level against Orlando looking very lively in his short time on the field really covering a lot of ground in the middle of the park. His reward was scoring Toronto's third goal of the match and the best of the bunch. He left a couple of Orlando defenders in his wake before applying a classy finish that left the keeper with no chance of stopping it. The odds of him winning a contract seemed slim at the start of camp but he is certainly going to make it hard to cut him lose with performances like these.
Nicolas Cabrera: His stock rose last night by comparison to what was going on around him in the first half. Most of the attacking players looked isolated and uninvolved in the first half but Cabera was popping up in several different areas and looked lively. He spent time on both wings but it was when he was working up the middle that he really got involved. Made some nice runs behind the defenders and in a regular season game might have earned a few bookings for Orlando players thanks to the challenges he drew. He didn't show much out wide but that was in large part due to the ball barely ever reaching Toronto's attackers in the first half. Stood out as the best of the bunch in the first 45.
Matt Stinson: Played 40 minutes in the game at left back which is a totally new position for him. He was an instant upgrade over Derrick Bassi and may have been the best outside defender last night before going off injured late in the contest. Again looked to have composure when defender and was selective with when to push forward and get involved on the attacking side of things. Few times his marking was a bit poor and he didn't quite close down his man quick enough but on the whole acquitted himself well in an unfamiliar position.
Ashton Bennett: Being in this category is probably bad news for Bennett who I felt needed to show he actually had something to offer last night and he failed to do that. Running fast was again the only skill that he seemed to have to offer as he did little in the way of tracking back or pressing his man on the wings. The few times he did find the ball at his feet he didn't do a whole lot with it. Did only get 15 minutes of playing time after coming on for Luis Silva so it is hard to be overly critical of him but other players made better use of short shifts last night.
Danny Califf: Fans finally got to see Califf in a TFC shirt as he played the first 45 minutes last night. He was certainly kept busy as Orlando spent the entire first half on the attack. He showed his presence in both boxes as he got his head to a number of balls including producing TFC's best scoring chance of the first half as he headed a set piece just wide. The issues of rust were plain to see though as Dennis Chin and Long Tan managed to get in behind him a number of times and if they had been able to connect with the crosses with any regularity could have made this one ugly. Hopefully with more playing time he gets that missing step back but for now he looks to be the third best defensive option as Darren O'Dea and Gale Agbossoumonde both put in strong performances for the second straight game.
Gale Agbossoumonde: Played a solid second 45 and looked like he is ready to start the season. Continues to look capable of forming an impressive partnership with O'Dea in the middle of the park as the duo limited Orlando's attacks in the second half. Stood up well in a number of challenges against dangerous attacks using his big frame to shut players down.
Darren O'Dea: Proved again to be the marshal of Toronto's backline even when Califf was beside him. His man did get in behind him a couple of times in the first half but that was to be expected with so many crosses coming into the danger area. Did well to clear the danger on a number of occasions and was a big part of TFC looking well organized in the middle f the park.
Joe Bendik: Made one really nice save in the game but for the most part was not all that busy despite the heavy pressure from Orlando for large stretches of the match. Most of his work came from dealing with crosses and he looked a bit less convincing than fans would have liked as he often resorted to punches that did not get the ball out of the danger area and looked to be scrambling a bit. He got the job done though and kept a clean sheet so can't knock him too much for his efforts.
Luis Silva: Looked a lonely figure when he was part of a front two with Braun but when the coaching staff moved him back into the middle of the park midway through the first half he immediately became more involved in the game. Struggled to have the big impact that TFC fans will be hoping to see from him this season but did a lot better when he was actually getting some time on the ball.
Terry Dunfield: Did well in the second half with a fairly typical Dunfield performance. Lots of hard work, few strong tackles, and some errant passes to round things out. Capped his night off by converting TFC's penalty and getting in a bit of a scuffle. Solid days work for TFD.
Kyle Bekker: Had his ups and downs in the 80 minutes that he played as the coaching staff seemed to have him playing in a couple of different positions including spending time as a deeper midfielder and playing on the wing. Made a few rash challenges that Adrian Heath really did not seem to enjoy but was just part of his intense effort. Proved he can take a punch and walk away which was nice to see.
Emery Welshman: Again looked lively when he was on the field. Was not overly involved in play during his 45 minutes on the field but he was another player that proved to be very willing to press Orlando high up the field and close down defenders on the wings.
Andrew Wiedeman: Only got a 10 minute shift last night but was lively during that time with TFC being a man up. Did manage to find himself on the end of a good scoring chance but was unable to beat the keeper with his effort.
Daniel Fabrizi: Not going to judge him on a five minute stint at left back where he was not even put under stress one time.
Richard Eckersley: Of all the players who are expected to be starters come opening day of the MLS season none stood out as being worse than Ecks was last night. It would take more than two hands full of fingers to count all the times that Orlando players seemed to find themselves in acres of space on the wing that Ecks was supposed to be covering. He got very little help from the midfielders who shared that wing with him but that is no excuse for constantly leaving his post vacant. Orlando spent most of the game swinging in dangerous crosses from his side of the field with far too little opposition.
Derrick Bassi: With Ashtone Morgan sitting on the sideline with a knock to his knee this was Bassi's best chance to prove that he is capable of being a viable backup in that position. He failed to get the job done often being exposed by Orlando's wide players. Unlike Ecks he was actually in his position most of the first half but was too eager to close down and as a result got beaten by a lot of simple passes as Orlando dragged him out of position before sending in the cross. When he did get the ball he struggled to pick out a pass in the difficult weather conditions as he often seemed a bit to eager to get it far down field rather than making the smart play.
Reggie Lambe: I am still not sure that Lambe was even on the field in the first half despite what the roster is telling me. He was pretty much invisible out there as he was not dropping back to get involved in the play or help out the defenders which left him isolated up front hoping for a long pass which never came thanks to the high winds. Needs to find a way to be involved in games even when TFC are not controlling the ball.
Justin Braun: He did look lively in the first half as he was often pressing Orlando's defenders and chasing down long passes that had gone astray in the wind which was nice to see. Problem was that when he actually got the ball in the first half he did very little with it showing a poor first touch and then turning it over on a regular basis. Did little to inspire confidence that he can carry the attacking load early in the season.
Jeremy Hall: Got the start in the middle of the park where I used to think he was better suited to play than at right back but did plenty to change my mind with his performance. When Toronto was pinned in their own end and in need of someone in the midfield to take the ball off the defenders and start moving it forward Hall was never there. He did a lot of running around and trying to put in tackles but did little that actually contributed to the team in a positive way. For much his time on the field (a full 80 minutes) the game went on around him as play often bypassed him. Not going to be earning too many minutes with that kind of outing.