The playoff hopes of Toronto FC (9-10-6) took a blow Saturday night, as Orlando City (8-11-6) endured significant second-half pressure to earn a road tie at BMO Field. The result keeps Toronto behind Montreal for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and Orlando City only three points back of Toronto FC themselves.
Toronto are just 6-4-4 at home this year (1.57 points per game) and face six of their last nine MLS contests on the road, where they are 3-6-2.
After a first half almost devoid of scoring chances, Toronto FC turned up the pressure in the second half with a flurry of efforts, only to see Orlando strike with a clinical counter in the 69th minute. Chris Mueller broke down the right and threaded a cross-field pass for the run of substitute Benji Michel, who had just entered at left wing. Michel's first touch took him into the penalty area, and he slotted his second past Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg to give Orlando a surprising lead just one minute after entering.
Michel was involved in Toronto's equalizer as well, when his foul on Richie Laryea was initially ruled a penalty kick, then placed just outside the box after Video Review. From the restart, Alejandro Pozuelo dropped a pass to Michael Bradley, whose shot was deflected by Orlando City players and fell to substitute Patrick Mullins, who fired home from eight yards for his first Toronto FC goal since being acquired on July 11.
Toronto's efforts for a winning goal saw plenty of effort exerted by Jozy Altidore and company, but Orlando held out for the point.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Sitting just outside the playoff picture, Toronto FC's and Orlando City's records reflect their mediocre campaigns, and Saturday was just more of the same. Not surprisingly, Toronto were better for most of the match, but usual suspects Pozuelo and Altidore were unable to take any of the scoring chances they usually find.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Video Review took center stage in the 74th minute when Michel's rather soft foul on Laryea was ruled a penalty kick by referee Kevin Stott. Video Review saw Stott correctly award the free kick outside the box, but Toronto scored anyway, with Bradley's low shot falling kindly to Mullins.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Uri Rosell and Carlos Ascues. Of Toronto's 18 shots, only 5 were on target, in part because Rosell and Ascues in the Orlando midfield always knew where Pozuelo was. They limited him largely to wide areas and helped prevent Toronto from creating clear-cut chances. Pozuelo failed to score or assist in back-to-back games for just the fourth time this year.
- TOR: Wed., Aug. 14 vs. Ottawa Fury (Canadian Championship semifinals, 2nd leg) (7:30 pm ET | OneSoccer)
- ORL: Wed., Aug. 14 vs. Sporting Kansas City (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada)