Toronto FC defeats Orlando in a pair of MLS pre-season games in Florida

Two games, two pre-season wins for Toronto FC

CHAMPIONSGATE, United States — Sebastian Giovinco and Justin Morrow scored late second-half goals to lift Toronto FC to a 3-1 win over Orlando City in MLS pre-season play Sunday. 

Jozy Altidore and Orlando’s Kaka, via a disputed penalty, traded first-half goals.

Giovinco, the victim of several fouls on the afternoon, made Orlando pay via a free kick for the go-ahead goal. Morrow scored the insurance goal off a rebound.

“We feel good about where we are,” said captain Michael Bradley, saying the game against MLS opposition was just what the team needed.

Toronto had previously played college and NASL teams during training camp.

Toronto fielded a full-strength team with the exception of French defender Clement Simonin starting for Nick Hagglund. Former Toronto players Joe Bendik and Will Johnson, as well as Canadian international Cyle Larin were in the Orlando starting 11.

The two teams played a doubleheader with a younger Toronto side beating Orlando 4-0 in the second game. Ben Spencer, Aikim Andrews and Brian James scored for Toronto, which also got an own goal when a Jay Chapman cross deflected in off a defender.

Veteran French midfielder Benoit Cheyrou led Toronto’s second squad.

The afternoon games were played under hot sun with Orlando showing a physical side that was not always appreciated. Orlando, showing its experience with the weather, brought tents with it to shelter its bench. 

Toronto plays Minnesota United on Wednesday before wrapping up pre-season play Saturday against the Chicago Fire in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Toronto opens the regular season March 4 at Real Salt Lake.

“We’re exactly where we need to be (at) two weeks to go,” said Bradley. “Most guys get 90 minutes today. It sounds like we’ll use Wednesday and split the game a little bit, use it a little bit more as a training exercise. And then we’ll have one more dry run on Saturday, which obviously will lead into a normal week (of training) before Salt Lake.

“It’s exciting. Pre-season is important. You lay the foundation, you continue to build on the foundation but there’s no substitute for the real thing.”

 

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press