MLS: Orlando City boosts playoff hopes, eliminates Toronto FC
Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara scored goals in the first half and Pedro Gallese recorded his ninth clean sheet of the season as Orlando City SC dominated visiting Toronto FC 4-0 on Saturday in a key, late-season Eastern Conference match.
Orlando City (13-12-6, 45 points) snapped a two-game losing streak and cemented its spot in fifth place in the East. The Lions, who have three regular season matches left, remain in the hunt for a home playoff game granted the top four finishers in each conference.
The loss officially eliminated Toronto FC (9-16-7, 34 points) from postseason contention. Toronto has dropped three straight matches and is mired in 13th place (next to last) in the East with two matches to play.
Gallese recorded three saves, all of them in the second half, to post the 19th shutout of his three-year MLS career.
The Lions struck early on as Torres ripped a left-footed shot from just outside the box past Toronto keeper Quentin Westberg in the ninth minute. Torres took a back-heel pass from Antonio Carlos to the left of Westberg and dribbled twice as he closed nearer to the area before unleashing a shot that found the bottom-right corner.
Orlando added to its advantage 13 minutes later as Kara outraced Toronto defender Lukas MacNaughton to a long through ball from near midfield by Mauricio Pereyra and unleashed a left-footed shot into the bottom left corner.
Torres just missed giving the Lions a three-goal first-half lead when he clanged a shot off the left post in the 42nd minute.
MacNaughton’s trying game became even more difficult when he surrendered an own goal in the 47th minute as redirected a shot from Orlando’s Joao Moutinho into the Toronto net.
Orlando outshot Toronto 9-3 in the first half and had three shots in target to none for the visitors.
Tesho Akindele capped the scoring with a goal in the 84th minute off an assist by Ivan Angulo.