Joe Bendik 6
Orlando City SC goalkeeper Joe Bendik raises his arms in victory after a 2-1 win over New York City FC at Camping World Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. (Photo by Christopher Bobo / New Day Review)

Orlando City SC’s road game against Toronto FC was a sight for sore eyes. After conceding four goals in each of their past three losses, the Lions (7-10-14, 35 points) battled to a 0-0 draw with Toronto (13-8-10, 49 points) Wednesday night at BMO Field to keep themselves within striking distance of making the playoffs.

In the 70th minute, the situation turned in favor of Orlando City after multiple offensive opportunities for both sides. Toronto’s Tosaint Ricketts was ejected by way of a second yellow card for a high kick after receiving his first in the 55th minute on a sliding challenge on Ricardo Kaká. Ricketts’ ejection was fortunate for Orlando City, as he had been integral to Toronto’s near goals throughout the match.

Three minutes after the ejection, the Captain almost took advantage of the man-up situation. Midfielder Kevin Molino and Kaká engaged a two-man attack when the Brazilian tapped it to Molino, who then split the defense of Steven Beitashour and Nick Hagglund. Kaká bodied himself onto the ball, knocking down Hagglund, and unleashed a shot that went straight into the hands of Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono.

Though the match concluded in a draw, it was not without its chances. Toronto started off with two very dangerous attacks in the first six minutes.

In the fifth minute, Toronto’s Michael Bradley delivered a corner kick from City’s left side that found Ricketts for an unchallenged header. The subsequent attempt at Lions goalkeeper Joe Bendik‘s goal went just about two to three feet over the net.

No more than a minute and a half later did Ricketts chase down a ball along City’s left flank, where he would play a high-flying ball into the box. Justin Morrow attempted to volley it in, but his shot would take a high bounce and fall into the gloves of Bendik.

Five minutes later, City retaliated with an attack of their own. Orlando City midfielder Brek Shea found his way inside the right part of Toronto’s box, where he then slotted a low grounder to Molino, who one-timed it to Cyle Larin, who got off a challenged grounder on Bono’s net. The shot was deflected by a diving Bono.

Man of the Match: Joe Bendik

Throughout the match, it looked as if the Lions’ defense still faltered, allowing unchallenged headers and leaving open men inside the box. It was Bendik who proved to be the Lions’ best player in his team’s draw, especially in a stretch of games that has seen his team allow 12 goals.

In the 31st minute, Ricketts received a through ball deep inside Bendik’s box. The Toronto forward then tried to ground it past Bendik’s right side, but the former Toronto goalkeeper dropped in anticipation to save his goal.

Then, in the 65th minute, Morrow sent a sky-high ball in from the left side of the baseline to a wide-open Marky Delgado, who tried to volley in the first goal of the match. Bendik was there to make the diving punch and save.

The City stalwart finished with three saves and his fifth clean sheet of the season.

Making the Playoffs

Major League Soccer playoffs are still within reach for the second-year Lions. With only three games left, though, City will have to string together a win or two, lest they rely on the losses of the Montreal Impact and D.C. United.

The Lions are currently No. 8 with with 35 points; the New England Revolution are No. 7 with 36 points; United is in the sixth spot, the last available playoff position, with 40 points. Montreal leads United by only one point.

What’s next?

Orlando City returns to Camping World Stadium to face the Montreal Impact. The No. 5 team in the Eastern Conference has lost both matches to Orlando City by a combined score of 6-2.

Scoring

None.

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Goals Assists Shots Shots on Goal
Toronto FC 0 0 15 3
Orlando City SC 0 0 8 4

Toronto FC starting XI (4-4-2): Alex Bono (GK); Steven Beitashour, Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Justin Morrow; Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Armando Cooper; Tosaint Ricketts, Jozy Altidore

Orlando City SC starting XI (4-2-3-1): Joe Bendik (GK); Kevin Alston, José Aja, David Mateos, Luke Boden; Kevin Molino, Servando Carrasco, Ricardo Kaká (C), Brek Shea; Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas