Analysis: Toronto FC (a). This house is purple. Not red. Purple. Purple.
Following Orlando City is hazardous to health, that's it. What an amazingly brilliant and stressful start to this game. My caffeine adled self was struggling at 2:31 on Sunday morning, let me tell you. Tesho Akindele continued his one man pursuit of Orlando City's quickest ever goal. Nani then doubled the lead, after Toronto gifted them an opportunity. It seemed to be going so well. Orlando rarely make it easy though, do they? Toronto showcased their own offensive capabilities well. Even before Orlando's second goal, TFC were the better side. Eventually the squatters forced the scores level with goals from Akinola and Osorio. It was a pulsating and unequivocally frustrating first 45 minutes. Your classic 'great advert for the league'. Not so great for those of a nervous disposition, however. The second 44, whilst calmer on the field, was no less exacting.
This really was one of the craziest games I've seen in a long time. Whilst Orlando needed to do better with both goals, it cannot be denied; this Toronto side is a dangerous team. This was never going to be anything but an enthralling game, but this was something else. I'd liken it to a game of FIFA Street, but like when you let your little brother or sister play; and it's kind of amazing and horrifying at the same time. It was ridiculous.
An insane opening ten minutes
I feel like I just need a moment to reflect on one of the most insane opening periods of a game that I have ever seen in my 20+ years watching this sport. A wonderful team move, including a Junior Urso dummy, an exquisite Mauricio Pereyra through ball and an accomplished Tesho Akindele finish fired the Lions ahead with barely 51 seconds on the clock. A period of Toronto pressure was then followed by a second goal. A goal which is possibly one of the most ridiculous I've ever seen.
Quentin Westberg looked like he'd jumped out of a Charlie Chaplin silent movie; comedically gifting the ball to Silvester Van Der Water, who laid the ball off for Akindele who then found Luis Nani with an inch perfect cross. It was just bizarre. Westberg looks to try and dribble round our explosive Dutchman, but then just sort of... stops. It was like an old silent movie, with limbs comedically flying all over the place as Westberg scrambled to make up for his calamitous error.
Uncharacteristic defensive frailties
One of the mainstay characteristics of this Oscar Pareja side, indeed most Oscar Pareja sides, has been their organisation and defensive resolve. All of which seem to have abandoned them of late. Robin Jansson, in particular, seemed to have a torrid evening. The first goal for TFC was frustrating all round, as the Orlando defence stood off, Alejandro Pozuelo was able to slip the ball to Richie Laryea. Antonio Carlos lost track of the former Lion, whose shot was parried by Brandon Austin. The ball rebounded up in the air, and was nodded home by Ayo Akinola, who jumped over a static Jansson. Akinola seemed to want it more. There were no Thor-esque heroics from the big Swede this time around. With 0 tackles won, and just 1 interception it just wasn't his evening.
Orlando's defensive issues weren't all on him, however. The second goal was just a mess all round. Orlando fail to clear their lines and Toronto work their way into the area, where they are able to find Laryea all too easily, who pulls the ball back to Osorio for an easy finish. Both Urso and Perea are caught ball watching here (figure 1). Neither have eyes on Osorio. Kyle Smith steps up, presumably to play the offside trap, Antonio Carlos and Jansson don't. There's no communication here, and Orlando are made to pay for it. Thankfully, it hasn't cost us any points but it so easily could've done.
Figure 1 shows a still from just before Toronto's equaliser.
More attacking impetus
This was certainly a game for the neutrals as the strikers ultimately won out, whilst defenders on both sides were left wondering what hell was going on. Both teams seemed to be going hell for leather throughout the game, throwing all caution to the wind. Just like I'm throwing in tired clichés. You'll see from the action zone graphic in figure 2, a lot of the action took place in the middle third (40%), with sizeable chunk (35%) occuring in Orlando's defensive third. Make no mistake, Toronto played well. They popped the ball around effectively, and had the majority of the play in our third. Orlando might have only had 25% of the overall play in their offensive third, but they were clinical with it. Orlando posted an impressive conversion rate of 25% from 12 attempts, with 9 on frame (figure 3). That's a 33.3% conversion rate from their shots on target. Clinical.
Figure 2 shows the action zones for both sides, whole 90.
Figure 3 shows the shooting statistics for both sides (Toronto 🔴, Orlando 🔵).
Silvester Van Der Water is probably unlucky not to get a look in here, but Smith defended excellently all evening. The timing of his challenges was superb, on an evening where he was severely tested. He and Laryea were probably the only defenders, on either side, to emerge from this contest with enhanced reputations. With 5 tackles, 2 interceptions and 4 clearances, the Accountant shone on a night when both defences didn't. Whoscored.com gave him an overall score of 7.27, which placed him third on the team.
's also second in tackles for the entire league, with 20. Both statistics reflect the kind of evening he had. There were a number of times when he was left exposed against the likes of Pozuelo, Osorio and Lawrence. All seemed to struggle getting past him. One particular challenge on Osorio had me cheering as if he'd scored a goal, as he expertly nicked the ball from the Canadian playmaker in Orlando's area, late-on. It could so easily have been a penalty, but the Accountant was methodical and calculated in his execution of the play. Great performance. Crucial goal-line clearance, too.
Austin -6- To attribute either goal to him, would be harsh. Made some decent looking saves, and looked comfortable distributing play.
Smith -8- Defended very well on a tough evening.
Antonio Carlos -7- Won a lot in the air, and was generally very solid, though he did lose Laryea for the first goal.
Jansson -5- Uncharacteristically poor, positioning was all over the place.
Moutinho -6- Not his best game, but certainly not his worst. Was shown a clean set of heals by Laryea on a few occasions.
Urso -7- Thankfully his football skills are better than his haircut. Excellent game-winning finish.
Perea -6- Played well overall, but did seem to get exposed in midfield when he went forward.
Van Der Water -8- Constant threat all evening, could establish himself as one of the best wingers in the league. If given time.
Nani -7- Seemed to enjoy linking up with VDW.
Pereyra -6- Had some classy touches, but went missing for large periods.
Akindele -6- Hustled well and took his goal brilliantly.
Dike -7- Man, it was good to have him back. Seemed to cause Gonzalez some serious issues.
Mueller -7- Picked up an assist for the goal. Has a fight on his hands to displace VDW.
Michel -6- Provided fresh energy, at an important time.
*All statistics courtesy of whoscored.com