Ryan Telfer volleyed in the winner in the 87th minute Friday night to give Toronto FC three much-needed points in a 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC.
Brazilian fullback Auro sent a long cross over the Orlando goal and Telfer, scoring his first goal in his fourth MLS start, hammered the ball home.
The crowd of 28,009 on a cool night at BMO Field had more to cheer about as a squirrel came on the field and kept venturing into the Orlando goal.
Cristian Higuita's 73rd-minute goal had pulled Orlando City even at 1-1. The Colombia midfielder hammered a shot past Alex Bono from just outside the penalty box after Toronto failed to clear the ball cleanly.
Jay Chapman gave Toronto a 1-0 lead in the 63rd minute, and the home fans thought TFC had doubled the advantage in the 72nd minute. But the goal by substitute Tosaint Ricketts, after a Michael Bradley shot off a corner pinballed his way, was ruled offside after a late flag.
Toronto FC forward Jordan Hamilton (22) and Orlando City defender Mohamed El-Munir (13) chase after a bouncing ball on Friday night. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Chapman knocked the ball in after Ricketts, on a pass from Victor Vazquez, hit the post. The play started after a Joe Bendik goal kick went straight to a Toronto player.
Ricketts had entered the game three minutes earlier, replacing the ineffective Jordan Hamilton.
Toronto, which has endured a rash of injuries and gruelling CONCACAF Champions League schedule, looked more solid than of late but lacked teeth up front with star strikers Sebastian Giovinco (suspended) and Jozy Altidore (foot) both out.
Giovinco and Jozy Altidore had combined for 14 of Toronto's 20 career goals against Orlando.
Toronto (3-6-1) came into the game off back-to-back losses to New England and Seattle, the third time this season it has suffered consecutive defeats in league play. With six losses on the season, TFC has already exceeded the number it suffered all last season when it led the league with a 20-5-9 record.
Toronto is now 3-2-1 at home. It was 13-1-3 there during the 2017 regular season.
But the road doesn't get any easier for Toronto with games looming at home to FC Dallas (4-1-4) and away at Columbus (6-3-3).
Orlando City (6-4-1) saw a franchise-record six-game win streak end Sunday in a 2-1 home loss to league-leading Atlanta United. It was Orlando's first defeat since March 17.
While still missing injured players, Toronto got enough defenders back for Bradley to return to his normal holding midfield role. Eriq Zavaleta and Chris Mavinga returned to the starting lineup, flanked by Gregory van der Wiel and Auro in a back four.
Nico Hasler (quad), Justin Morrow (calf) Drew Moor (quad) and Nick Hagglund (hamstring) were unavailable.
Orlando was without suspended midfielder Yoshimar Yotun and star striker Dom Dwyer (lower-body injury). With six goals in seven games, Dwyer is tied for third in league scoring.
Hamilton had a good early chance but failed to get a foot on a low cross from Telfer. Telfer then forced a save from Bendik, a former TFC starter, in the 26th minute after an accurate long-distance pass from Vazquez.
Telfer was one of TFC's leading lights in the first half, driving down the left flank and putting pressure on makeshift right back Will Johnson, a Canadian international and former TFC player.
Hamilton had another chance in the 40th but by the time he got the shot off there were too many defenders in the way. Toronto registered the lone shot on target in the first half.
Orlando sent on 19-year-old Paraguayan designated player Josue Colman in the 64th minute.
Bono was called into action in the 68th minute, grabbing a Justin Meram header.
TFC had won six of the eight previous meetings between the two, with one draw. Orlando's lone win was a 3-2 home decision on June 25, 2016. Orlando came in with a 0-3-1 record in Toronto, with a goalless draw on Sept. 28, 2016.
It was Orlando midfielder Sacha Kljestan's first visit back to BMO Field since the 2017 postseason when, playing for the New York Red Bulls, he was ejected for a halftime tunnel melee with Altidore.
Aside from a few boos while taking a corner, Kljestan was largely ignored by the hometown fans.
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