Atlanta United Shut Out Toronto FC
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Atlanta----Reigning MLS Cup Champions, Atlanta United extended their winning streak to three games tonight, after defeating Toronto FC 2-0. Toronto and Atlanta were both coming into this game following one-sided victories over the weekend and were looking to continue their winning streak and build more momentum heading into a busy stretch of the season.
Coach Greg Vanney made plenty of changes to his starting-XI; Alex Bono was was back as starting goalkeeper in-place of Quentin Westberg, which was a bit of a surprise because he played a pivotal role in Toronto’s victory over Orlando on Saturday. Other changes included: Richie Laryea, Ashtone Morgan, and Eriq Zavaleta on the back-line, Liam Fraser and Jay Chapman in the midfield positions, and Ayo Akinola, who had shown to be a reliable player off the bench this season, started alongside Alejandro Pozuelo in the attack.
In the 17th minute, Alex Bono stopped a free-kick however, Josef Martinez took advantage of the rebound and crossed the ball to Tito Villalba, who scored to put Atlanta up 1-0. The goal was one that Toronto would likely want a do-over on as the defenders left an attacking threat like Martinez open for a scoring opportunity.
Atlanta were the much better team in the first-half; they were successful in creating plays in Toronto’s half of the field and the forwards looked like more of a threat. Josef Martinez did an excellent job in putting himself in a position to score, but was unsuccessful as he would miss the net wide and when he did eventually score later on in the game, it was ruled offside.
Toronto didn’t have much luck in the second-half, which caused Vanney to make all his substitutions early in order to try and provide a spark for the team; Justin Morrow came on to replace Ashtone Morgan, Jonathan Osorio came on to replace Nick DeLeon, and Terrance Boyd replaced Ayo Akinola in the attack.
It looked as though Atlanta would be up 2-0 in the 65th minute when Villalba scored, but the goal was called off because Josef Martinez was offside. This was a great break for Toronto but the team weren’t able to capitalize and Atlanta would end up scoring in the 67th minute, when Julian Gressel struck a perfectly placed shot that beat Bono, to give his team the two-goal lead.
Even with the substitutions, Toronto were unable to get back in the game or contain Atlanta’s dynamic offense. Although it was a tough loss, Toronto are still in a good position in the MLS Easter Conference standings and are back home on Saturday, when they host the Philadelphia Union at BMO Field.
ATL Villalba 17’
ATL Gressel 67’
Photo and Video Credit: Toronto FC (@torontofc) and Atlanta United (@ATLUTD)