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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Toronto FC (h). Huge Win As Orlando Sweeps Aside Hapless Toronto.

Now that's what I'm talking about. This was a big, big performance from the boys in purple. Toronto may have been decimated by injuries and international absentees but, at the end of the day, you can only beat what is put in front of you. And Orlando City did that in a big way.

This was the first 4 goal victory of 2023, but in all honesty it could have been 8 or 9 and nobody would have had any complaints. If this was a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it early.

It was an absolutely ruthless performance from Oscar Pareja's team and I'm all here for it.

One of the principle criticisms that have been levelled at this team is their apparent lack of willingness to go for the jugular; often content with sitting on a one goal lead. Not so on Tuesday; on a night where there were pyrotechnics galore, it was on the pitch where the real fireworks took place.

Orlando played with their foot on Toronto's throat. Make no mistake, this is an exceptionally poor Toronto side, and Orlando will need to repeat this level of performance when they face a higher quality of opponent in the coming weeks.

But this was a statement win, and one with many pleasing facets.

Possession play

One of Orlando's biggest issues so far this season, has been sloppiness in possession. Whilst we have to acknowledge how poor Toronto were in their pressing, we have to give props to Orlando City. Their passing was excellent; they completed 91% of their passes overall whilst having 60% of their overall play. According to FlashScore, Orlando had 67 dangerous attacks, compared to Toronto's 22. It was a violation.

There was a confidence about Orlando's passing and their moving. There was a synergy we haven't seen too much of so far this season, but has now begun to become apparent to even the most casual of observer. The clip in figure 1 is a perfect example of this synergy. The players are passing, moving, passing, moving. Whilst Toronto seem more than happy to sit off and let the Lions have the ball, it's great play which almost ends in a goal.

What Orlando did well, was they used their full-backs to make the pitch as wide as possible. Which they carried on doing even when Toronto went down to ten (figure 2). Rafael Santos and Kyle Smith still had authority to push up and overload in wide areas. They weren't content with just managing the game at 2-0. They wanted to make a statement. And I applaud them for that.

In reality, a decent goalkeeping performance and some profligate finishing was the only reason the score stayed at 4.

Figure 1 is a clip from the first half.

Figure 2 is a clip from the second half.

Cesar Araujo

The Uruguayan midfielder was a huge part of Orlando's possession game having posted a 93% pass completion rate from 76 passes. He was first to every second ball too, making 8 recoveries. His defensive presence allowed for the full-backs to get forward, and also took the pressure of Mauricio Pereyra who was able to concentrate on creating opportunities for his teammates.

Whilst Araujo might have garnered more attention for his simulation so far this season, he's beginning to enter a real purple patch... Pardon the pun. He's playing really well and is arguably one of the most important players in this team. He capped his performance off with a well taken goal. This is the way Cesar... Not the diving. I have spoken.

Rafael Santos

There were concerns about him, from some in the fanbase, particularly during the early part of the season. For me, he's been one of our better recent signings. Orlando profited from 2 of his signature crosses (albeit one had the aid of a huge deflection).

We've already touched on how important the use of both full-backs was in allowing Orlando to stay on the front foot, but I want to highlight Santos' performance. Not only does he get up and down the pitch well (figure 3), but his crossing is deadly. He only crossed the ball 4 times. And we scored from 2 of them.

Remarkably he only has 2 assists on the season, according to FlashScore... I would expect that number to rise.

Figure 3 shows Santos' heatmap, whole 90.

Top player

Cesar Araujo

Araujo is really showing his worth to the team right now, and is showing tremendous leadership. He's a potential future captain, particularly as he plays such a vital role in the midfield unit. Ran the midfield in this match. Arguably his best game yet for the club.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -7- Will have busier nights, but what he needed to do... He did well.

Smith -8- Didn't have to do much defensive work, but got forward well.

Jansson -7- Was a solid springboard for attacks.

Antonio Carlos -7- Rumours abound concerning his future... Didn't let that faze him here.

Santos -8- For me he's an upgrade on Moutinho.

Cartagena -7- Recycled possession well.

Araujo -9- Made everything tick.

Torres -7- Lively all night.

Pereyra -7- Should have scored early on, but knitted play well.

Angulo -8- Gave Kobe Franklin a torrid time.

McGuire -8- Just keeps getting better.


Þórhallsson -7- Took his goal well.

Kara -7- Lovely to have two strikers in form.

Ojeda -7- Clever assist for Kara.

Enrique -7- Looked confident.

Petrasso -7- Helped see the game out.


Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja

"The boys are happy. They are very pleased with their performance. I think it was one of our most responsible performances. The respect for the game that they showed today was very good. I am very pleased with it. Even when the game turned into the game that it was headed, they played very inspired and that is why they scored the goals. It is a good sensation, and it is still our responsibility to perform in front of our fans. Congratulations to them and this is a special day for America. We are very proud to belong to the community, to the fans, and to this country that has provided us all the opportunity to work. Enjoy today and we are very happy today.”

*All statistics courtesy of, and

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Game footage courtesy of MLS/Apple TV.

Media availability footage and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.


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