The win was the club's first since an opening-day victory over Phoenix Rising, halting their unenviable drought at 12 matches and, in the process, kick-starting a two-game unbeaten run and marking the first time the club has score in consecutive games this season.
Absent of a handful of the reinforcements that helped to earn a 1-1 draw against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on the weekend, coach Jason Bent reinserted USL regulars Liam Fraser, Ryan Telfer and Jordan McCrary into his starting XI.
The back line of Mitch Taintor, Brandon Aubrey and Robert Boskovic remained unchanged for pretty much the first time all season, and Angelo Cavalluzzo retained his place in goal, earning his fourth clean sheet in his ninth start. Brian James, a near-ever-present, took his spot in midfield and the side played more of the 3-4-3 formation that served them well against Pittsburgh.
Bent’s squad was also bolstered by Hamilton, Tsubasa Endoh, Sergio Camargo and (from the bench) Oyvind Alseth off the first-team roster.
The match began with an unfortunate incident that saw Orlando defender Seb Hines go down in pain in the first minute of play, clutching his right knee after his left foot gave way in an awkward slide. He was replaced by Conor Donovan.
That same moment saw the first glimpse of an inspired TFC II attack on the day, with Telfer laying a ball down the left side of the box for Hamilton, but it skittered beyond his reach and into the keeper's arms.
In the seventh minute, Endoh would find space for the shot at the top of the box, but his left-footer was easily dealt with by Orlando goalkeeper Jake Fenlason.
Two minutes later Hamilton would find his breakthrough from a well-orchestrated move. Liam Fraser began the play with a long ball on the carpet that found Endoh on the edge of the area. Endoh dished left to Telfer, who flung a ball into the box. Unmarked, Hamilton took the opportunity to settle the looped cross, bringing it down with his knee before pouncing with a firm, left-footed shot that made its way through a crowd and into the back of the Orlando net.
Orlando's Canadian forward Michael Cox nearly capitalized on a long Zachary Carroll ball out of the back in the 11th minute, bumping Aubrey out of position to nab possession, but he stepped on the ball as he turned to goal, costing him the valuable advantage his wise play had won.
Having learned the danger of relying on one goal against Pittsburgh, who equalized late, Toronto went in search of a second. Hamilton nearly turned provider in the 12th minute, slipping a ball through for Camargo, but it ran a little beyond his reach, allowing Fenlason to rush off his line and collect.
Come the 17th minute, a neat flick by Endoh, popping a long Boskovic ball infield from the left, was met by a surging inside run from Telfer, who bore down on goal. But Donovan, who had been caught short on Telfer's cross for Hamilton's goal, made amends with a fine sliding challenge that sent Telfer head-over-heels. Toronto would look to the referee for a decision, but any aspirations of a whistle in the box were waved away.
TFC II would keep their foot on the gas throughout the half. Taintor found himself in a strange position in the 22nd minute, charging into the box with the ball on his foot, but he waited one second too long to make a decision and was quickly surrounded by a flock of opposition jerseys. In the 29th, some good work from Camargo down the right side of the box allowed him to set up Endoh, but his one-timer sailed high and wide.
Toronto would have a penalty claim turned down in the 30th when Hamilton was played down the left side of the area by Endoh's pass. Donovan did appear to give the striker a shove in the back, but it was not enough to warrant a spot-kick despite Hamilton tumbling.
A clash of heads in the 31st minute between Telfer and Orlando's other Canadian starter, Zach Ellis-Hayden, would leave the Young Lion bloodied above the eye, removing him from the fray as he got patched up before returning.
In front of another rowdy school-day crowd, Toronto continued to attack. Camargo would prove the catalyst once more come the 33rd minute, finding Hamilton off the shoulder of the back line, but the scorer was unable to get off a shot as the defenders collapsed on him quickly.
Their lead should have been extended in the 35th minute when Fraser lifted his head in space above the right side of the box to hit a thunderously sweet right-footed blast from 30 yards, but it rattled the left post. Goal of the season material right there, but unfortunately it was not to be.
As if to warn that despite the one-way action, Orlando was still a threat, Cox found space for a shot in the minutes before half-time, working down the right side of the area to have an attempt towards goal, but Cavalluzzo was equal to the challenge, getting his hand on the drive even if it was going wide. Aubrey did well to force the dangerous attacker into a tighter angle than he would have preferred.
After two minutes of stoppage time, the sides would enter the locker rooms with Hamilton's strike the difference.
There was a very good chat about the TFC Academy and several of the players who have made their way up the pathway with TFC legend Danny Dichio – seek it out, it is highly recommended.
When play resumed Orlando issued yet another reminder of their potency, forcing Cavalluzzo to get down sharply to deny a poked shot bound for the bottom-right corner of goal off a broken play. Cox, the poker, was whistled for a foul in the process, but TFC were warned.
A strong move up the left by Telfer in the 49th minute saw Hayden-Ellis intervene, poking the loose ball towards his keeper where Camargo was lurking, but Fenlason was on hand to smother before he could pounce.
Orlando's best chance of the match came a minute later when a short-corner routine saw Danny Deakin hang a ball up to the back post from the right. Cox got up having created space between him and his marker via a shove and directed a header on frame, but Cavalluzzo stretched to get a paw to it, swatting it away. Carroll looked to get onto the rebound, out-battling Taintor to it at the right post, but Aubrey was on the goal line to clear inches, if not less, before it crossed.
Both teams would make changes shortly after the hour mark, with Ben Polk replacing Austin Martz in the 63rd minute and Luca Uccello coming on for Camargo in the 69th.
Much though Orlando tried, if either team was going to score Toronto were the more likely through the remaining 20 minutes.
Another of the TFC first teamers, Hamilton, would depart in the 76th minute, bringing Shaan Hundal into the action – with a dense schedule ahead for the MLS side, both Hamilton and Camargo could be called upon for minutes in the Canadian Championship final against Montreal. From the looks of their afternoons here, both are in sharp form.
Toronto would continue to look for that insurance goal. Endoh and Uccello each thought they had it come the 76th minute when a wonderful read from McCrary saw him intercept a pass and set up Endoh on the right side of the box. Fenlason dove to his right to parry the drive and the rebound fell straight to Uccello, who thought he had his second of the season on his boot only for Jordan Schweitzer to block.
Alseth would replace McCrary in the 82nd minute, and Hundal would see a glorious chance to seal the match ended by a combination of the slow turf and the recovery speed of Donovan a minute later.
Stepping into midfield on the ball, Aubrey sprung Hundal in clear on goal with a lovely pass down the right channel but as the striker approached goal, he could not get the ball out of his feet, dragging on the turf as it did and requiring an extra touch or two that allowed Donovan the time to track back and disrupt.
Donovan would see a booking two minutes after that for chopping down Uccello outside the box, gifting Endoh a chance to test his dead-ball skills once more. His first of the afternoon was too close to goal, smashing into the wall as he tried to get it up and down quickly, but this time it cleared that hurdle and was headed for the bottom-left corner of goal only for the keeper to prove its equal, pushing it wide.
TFC II would have one final half-chance to add to their tally in the 88th minute when an Endoh corner rattled around the area. Taintor, at the back post, popped the ball back into the mix, where Aubrey settled it before laying back to James for a strike. His drive took a few touches before falling to Taintor, who had strayed offside.
Hamilton's goal would stand as the winner, granting the Young Reds a well-earned victory.
The match is archived on YouTube.
Before the match, Bent and his team had remarked that it had been a long time since that 3-1 loss to Orlando City at the beginning of the season. Though results have not shown it, the progress in the side has been evident.
And if there is any truism in sports, it is that momentum can change quickly.
Six days ago, TFC II were winless in eleven matches, had just three goals through 12 and were relying on four draws for the bulk of their seven points, well adrift at the foot of the Eastern Conference table.
But now, with a win and a draw from a two-game home stand, they are unbeaten in two and off the base of the table, having jumped over both the Richmond Kickers and Harrisburg City Islanders. Their 11 points are just five short of the pack hovering around the final few playoff berths, though others have played fewer matches.
There is much work left to be done but given the strength of recent performances, if the goals continue to come, TFC II will pick up points and climb the table.
The Young Reds, after a busy few weeks, now get the weekend off before returning to the pitch on June 24 when they travel to Charleston to face the Battery.
TFC II – Jordan Hamilton (Ryan Telfer) 9’
OCB – Zachary Carroll 56’ (Caution)
OCB – Connor Donovan 84’ (Caution)
Toronto FC II (W-L-D): 2-7-5 11pts.
Orlando City B (W-L-D): 4-5-4 16pts.
|Toronto FC II||Orlando City B|
|Toronto FC II||Orlando City B|
|Shots – 11||Shots – 8|
|Shots on Target – 4||Shots on Target – 4|
|Blocked Shots – 5||Blocked Shots – 4|
|Possession – 47.0%||Possession – 53.0%|
Toronto FC II – Angelo Cavalluzzo; Mitchell Taintor ©, Brandon Aubrey, Robert Boskovic; Ryan Telfer, Brian James, Liam Fraser, Jordan McCrary (Oyvind Alseth 81’), Sergio Camargo (Lucca Uccello 68’); Jordan Hamilton (Shaan Hundal 76’), Tsubasa Endoh
Substitutes Not Used: Mark Pais, Luis Pereira, Aidan Daniels, Malik Johnson
Orlando City B – Jake Fenlason; Zachary Ellis-Hayden, Seb Hines (Conor Donovan 3’), Zachary Carroll ©, Scott Thomsen; Austin Martz (Ben Polk 63’), Jordan Schweitzer, Ryley Kraft (Allen Seals 85’), Danny Deakin; Michael Cox, David Loera
Substitutes Not Used: Aaron Smith, Robert Valentino, Jordi Avila