There are no shortage of narratives surrounding this one, from Cyle Larin and Will Johnson’s returns to Toronto to the potential for this to be a clash of two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
It is no surprise Toronto FC fit into that bracket, but Orlando City’s start to the season has been more unexpected. Jason Kreis’ team has undoubtedly benefited from playing five of their first seven matches at home, but sometimes if you start believing that you’re a good team you actually turn into one. As Johnson put it in an interview with the Toronto Sun: “Guys on their own understand that we’re tasting a little bit of success, but instead of letting that go to our heads we’re kind of getting addicted to that. We want it more and more.”
There are reasons to believe, too, that Orlando’s lofty position might last. Their success thus far this season has been founded on a solid defence which has allowed just five goals through their seven games, and they have done a good enough job of breaking teams down at home to stay perfect at their new stadium despite the absence of Kaka.
Toronto fans know as well as anyone that a solid defence and midfield and a sprinkling of stardust up front - which Orlando have in Kaka, Carlos Rivas and Larin - can take you a long way in this league.
At the start of the season, I thought Orlando had a bit of a jumbled squad and too much money they would rather have off the books to be a real threat this season. What Kreis has done really well thus far, however, is to quickly establish a core; the defensive unit has rarely changed, Antonio Nocerino, Johnson and Cristian Higuita protect it and you imagine that aforementioned attacking trio will, when fit, start the majority of Orlando’s games in the front three positions in their 4-4-2 diamond.
This, then, will be a tough one; perhaps an even tougher one than the home opener against the defensively sturdy but offensively limited Sporting Kansas City. It can be a struggle to find meaning in individual games early in the regular season, but on Wednesday night we have a real Eastern Conference matchup to look forward to.
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 1, 3, 4 & 5 (Toronto), WRDQ TV27 (Orlando)
Stream: TSN Go (Toronto), MLS Live (out-of-market)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), Real Radio 104.1 (Orlando)
Drew Moor is resting this week after undergoing a minor procedure to correct his irregular heartbeat, while Jason Hernandez and Clint Irwin are building up their fitness after injuries and can be considered unlikely to play any part.
Chris Mavinga has recovered from a quadriceps injury and is available for selection.
Orlando are without defender Rafael Ramos, who has a hamstring injury, but Kaka made a goalscoring return from the bench at the weekend and could start.
Toronto: Bono; Zavaleta, Hagglund, Morrow; Beitashour, Delgado, Bradley, Vazquez, Edwards; Altidore, Giovinco.
Orlando: Bendik; Sutter, Redding, Spector, Toia; Nocerino; Johnson, Higuita; Kaka, Larin, Rivas.