Toronto FC vs. Orlando City SC: Recap, Full Highlights, and Reaction

Trying to make sense of a confusing, and downright embarrassing, match between Toronto FC and Orlando City SC.

Embarrassment. The only word that comes to mind. Embarrassment towards our club. Embarrassment towards Orlando City. Embarrassment toward the league. And most of all, embarrassment towards Pro Referees. This is a game I will most likely never forget until the day I die, for all the wrong reasons.

The game did not start well, to say the least. Cyle Larin opened the scoring with a close range finish in the sixth minute from a Kevin Molino assist.

The first problem I noticed with this goal was the horrific marking from Nick Hagglund who got the start at right back tonight. Starting him was clearly the wrong call, who had only played 8 minutes of MLS action this year, not to mention the last time he started at right back Fabian Castillo scored twice in the first ten minutes.

Even without Steven Beitashour and Mark Bloom, there were still a variety of options at that position, with every other starting defencemen in the lineup tonight with experience playing at right back. There were situations in the first half were Hagglund would adventure up-field, not come back to cover, and either Will Johnson or Justin Morrow would have to track back to cover for him.

Clint Irwin made some fantastic saves during the first half, but not much happened on the offensive end for Toronto FC. Every time we received the ball, it was given to Sebastian Giovinco, who seemed to have three men on him at all times and would be closed down immediately. On the other hand, Jordan Hamilton had aces of space in the first half, and I’d fancy our luck putting one in the back of the net if one of those balls had found its way through to Hamilton.

Greg Vanney took note of my TV yelling, it seems, because mere minutes into the second half, Jonathan Osorio found Hamilton open in the box, who coolly slotted it in for the equaliser, and his first MLS goal. It was a terrific play from both parties, and is sure to make CMNT fans happy.

A back and forth game continued until later in the game when my worst nightmare happened; Clint Irwin, Toronto FC’s star goalkeeper, went down injured. As of this moment, there is no idea to the extent of Irwin’s injury, but it could be very bad for Toronto FC.

As a result of the injury, young keeper Alex Bono was subbed into the game, but we’ll get back to that later. On the other end of the pitch, the controversy began. Jonathan Osorio received a great ball in the box which fell to Jordan Hamilton, who was then blatantly dragged down by former TFC netminder Joe Bendik. What should have been a straightforward penalty call, head referee Ismail Elfath seemed to swallow his whistle and made no call.

The Toronto FC account made no effort to hide their disappointment over the non-call:

From that missed call alone this game would have been deemed a poor one from the referee perspective, but it just kept on getting worse.

Back to Bono, Orlando got the ball into the Toronto FC box, and Bono charged at it. He proceeded to make an absolutely horrific ball-handling mistake, which left the net completely exposed for Adrian Winter to tap the ball into an empty net.

Quillan Roberts is currently with TFC II for playing time, but if Clint Irwin is in fact out for an extended period of time, expect him to get the call over Alex Bono. Justin Morrow gave Toronto FC fans hope moments later, when Giovinco played a ball across the goal which was tapped in for an easy finish from Morrow.

I should mention that there was a water break, and Clint Irwin was down with an injury for some time but the eight minutes of stoppage time given seemed over the top. Through the last 20 minutes of the match, and especially the last eight of stoppage time, the referee seemed to make incorrect call after incorrect call. So when Ismail Elfath called for an Orlando penalty in the 10th minute of stoppage time, you can imagine the entire Toronto FC fanbase exploded.

The penalty call was on Drew Moor, who made light contact with Julio Baptista, ironically nicknamed “The Beast”. The TFC players rightly swarmed the ref after an absolutely embarrassing call, and the aftermath resulted in Josh Williams being handed a red card. Kaka subsequently converted the penalty which made it 3-2 Orlando for the final score.

I am not one to criticize referees too much, being a ref myself. However, no matter how poor the ref may be on a given day, all you can ask for is consistency. This is something Toronto FC absolutely did not have. It seemed every call was going Orlando City’s way, and these calls directly influenced the result of the game. Assuming Toronto FC had converted the penalty they should have had, and Orlando was not given the unrightfully last minute penalty, Toronto FC would be walking away from Orlando with three points, as opposed to zero.

This game was an embarrassment to both teams, the league, and most of all Pro Referees. Sure, Toronto FC did not play the greatest game ever. But you just can’t help but feel robbed.

You know how it’s said there is a silver lining in everything? Well there may just be one in this mess of a game. Matches like this are absolutely fantastic for team building.

For lack of a soccer related example, the first event that comes to mind is when the Toronto Blue Jays played the Kansas City Royals last year in a regular season game. Josh Donaldson was hit by three pitches that game, then Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez threw a pitch a Kansas City player and was immediately ejected from the game. This cleared the dugouts, but the team chemistry was nothing like I have ever seen from that moment on. Let’s hope this will spark something similar for Toronto FC.

I know that most TFC fans will agree with me when I say I would rather see us win the Voyageurs Cup than a regular season match against Orlando. This result, as frustrating as it may be, will hopefully drive us to do just that.