The Headliner: Playing a Team with Something to Prove
With how often Toronto FC are required to prove its doubters wrong, it is easy to forget that other clubs and their players have monkeys to get off their backs as well. That will certainly be the case for Orlando City SC when Toronto FC visits them today at Camping World Stadium.
For one, Toronto FC dominated Orlando in meetings between the two sides last season, outscoring them 11-1 in three lopsided victories. Orlando will be looking to exact some revenge for those matches tonight, and earn their first win against Toronto FC in franchise history.
Regardless of their opponent, however, Orlando City is just looking for a win period. They were not at all satisfied with a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes during an emotional match. They have won just three times this season, and lead the league with eight ties.
There are at least two players on the Orlando City roster who will be looking to prove themselves as well. Toronto region native Cyle Larin has yet to score against his hometown club, and will be hungry to do that for the first time tonight.
Meanwhile, between the Orlando City goalposts, Joe Bendik will be looking to prove that Toronto was wrong to let him go. Bendik has been fairly solid this season for Orlando, but early results still indicate that TFC made the right choice in picking up Clint Irwin.
Finally, a tight playoff race in the MLS Eastern Conference adds yet another level of intrigue to this match. A win by Orlando City and they would pass Toronto FC in the standings, and could drop Toronto out of a playoff spot. That is something Toronto will be looking to avoid at all costs.
Key to the Game: The Replacements
With the second leg of the Canadian Championship final against the Vancouver Whitecaps coming up on Wednesday, Toronto FC is going to have to rest some players. Their already thin roster has been able to weather the storm so far, but this will be another big test for many of the club's secondary players.
The chief concern is that fullback Steven Beitashour will likely need a rest. Beitashour has been a constant at right back this season, as Toronto FC has few other options. If Beitashour cannot play, Nick Hagglund, Justin Williams and Mark Bloom are possibilities to fill in at right back. Who plays the position, and how they play could end up being crucial.
In the midfield, Benoit Cheyrou is likely to sit after playing four games on the trot. That means Tsubasa Endoh will likely return to the Toronto FC starting lineup. Where he plays remains to be seen, with both him and Jonathan Osorio looking for time in the middle of the park.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Morrow, Moor, Williams, Hagglund; Cheyrou, Osorio, Johnson, Endoh; Giovinco, Hamilton
Subs: Bono, Bloom, Zavaleta, Delgado, Chapman, Babouli
Orlando City SC: Bendik; Shea, Mateos, Redding, Alston; Higuita, Ceren; Kaka, Winter, Molino; Larin
Location: Camping World Stadium, Florida
Kick-off time: 7:30 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: The Mane Land
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