Toronto FC Defeat Atlanta United, Advance to Third MLS Cup Final in Four Years
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
--- For the third time in four years, Toronto FC are heading to the MLS Cup Finals. Toronto continued their impressive playoff run by eliminating the reigning MLS Champions Atlanta United.
Taking the injuries into account, Toronto coach Greg Vanney went with a similar starting-XI in tonight’s game; Quentin Westberg started in-goal; Justin Morrow, Chris Mavinga, Laurent Ciman, and Auro Jr. on the backline; captain Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, and Jonathan Osorio in the midfield, and Nicolas Benezet, Tsubasa Endoh, and Alejandro Pozuelo the attacking trio up top.
Although it seemed likely that Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez would be suiting up for Toronto FC, he was officially ruled out of the game due to injury.
It was a rocky start for Toronto FC as they conceded an early goal in the fourth minute after their backline was caught playing to far up, which resulted in Pity Martinez using the time and space available and crossed the ball to Julian Gressel, who tapped the ball into the empty net.
Toronto’s night almost got worse; Michael Bradley took down Pity Martinez in the box in the ninth minute that caused the referee to award Atlanta with a penalty kick and the opportunity to go up 2-0 in the first ten minutes of play.
Atlanta’s Jozef Martinez stepped up to take the penalty for his team but fortunately for Toronto, Westberg came up big and saved the penalty. Westberg’s save was significant because had Toronto conceded two early goals, it may’ve affected the morale of the team as well as their confidence knowing that it’d be an uphill battle.
Toronto redeemed themselves and tied the game up in the 14th minute, when Benezet struck a perfectly placed shot from outside the box that curled into then bottom corner of the net to make it 1-1 and shift the momentum in Toronto’s favor.
Much like last week’s match, Vanney adjusted his tactics and formation in the second half by bringing on Richie Laryea to provide more pace on the defensive end and an offensive threat off the counterattack.
Vanney deserves a lot of credit for how he’s been able to adjust throughout the game when things aren’t going according to plan. This is refreshing because he’s shown that he’s willing to continue adapting as opposed to sticking to the same tactics when they don’t produce any results.
Nick DeLeon, who subbed on in the second half, scored a highlight reel goal in the 78th minute to give Toronto the 2-1 lead. Toronto started off slow, but they finished strong as the goal was enough to seal the win and the team’s third MLS Eastern Conference championship.
The MLS Cup Finals got a whole lot more interesting because the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC will be meeting in the final for the third time in four years. Both teams have a win over one another in the finals, so this year will settle the score as they meet for a trilogy.
Both the 2016 and 2017 MLS Cup Finals were played at BMO Field in Toronto however, Seattle had the better record this season, so they’ll be hosting the MLS Cup Final which should make for an interesting game.
Photo and Video Credit: Toronto FC (@TorontoFC)