Toronto FC looks to bounce back in Atlanta after painful season-opening loss – Toronto IG News

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Two teams on opposite ends of last week’s MLS season opener will face off on Saturday when Toronto FC visits Atlanta United.

Toronto suffered a painful 3–2 loss to DC United in a game that took a 2–1 lead after goals in the 66th and 83rd minutes, only to concede goals in the 90th and 98th minutes .

Atlanta earned a 2–1 home victory over the San Jose Earthquakes before 67,538 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with highlight-reel goals from distance by Thiago Almada in the 93rd and 99th minutes.

Almada’s spectacular free kick in the 99th minute won MLS Goal of the Week honors. His 93rd-minute goal, a drill from a corner from outside the penalty box, was runner-up in the voting.

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Toronto coach Bob Bradley said, “They have some very skilled players.” “I think everyone saw what Almada was able to do in the second half of the season last year. So he starts (this season) with these two great goals … They have other guys who are talented. And good on the ball.

A World Cup winner with Argentina, Almada was named MLS Player of the Week after becoming the second player in MLS history to score the equalizer and game-winning goal in stoppage time, and the first Atalanta to score twice in stoppage time. player.

There are question marks over the availability of both Italian star winger Lorenzo Insigne and Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez for Toronto, whose roster depth is a concern. Both are listed as suspects.

Insigne limped through the first half of last weekend, seemingly favoring his groin. Vazquez has been sidelined since suffering a rib injury in a February 11 pre-season game against Los Angeles FC.

Including last season, Toronto has lost six in a row, conceding three goals or more in five of them. The club only had one longer regular-season losing streak in 2012 – when it lost nine in a row to open the campaign.

Still, Atlanta isn’t taking TFC lightly.

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“I think we all know what they can do with the ball,” said Atlanta defender Miles Robinson. “They have a great midfield. But I think so far we have looked at how we can break them down and things like that.

The season opener saw both Robinson and goalkeeper Brad Guzan return from long-term injuries due to Achilles ruptures. Gujan was injured on 16 April and Robinson on 7 May.

The Greek international forward acquired from Celtic at Atlanta Scotland is waiting on a visa for newly designated player Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Toronto will play on turf in Atlanta. While not a popular choice of playing surface, TFC has been training under bubbles at home due to the winter weather.

‘Their turf will be different from this,’ Bradley said. “Did it help? Probably. It’s not something players enjoy, they feel the little things. You have to adjust your training load accordingly.”

Aside from a late rally, Atlanta had 60.5 percent possession against San Jose, a 20–10 edge in shots (5–4 in shots on goal) and eight corners to the Quakes’ three. Sixteen of Atlanta’s shots came from outside the 18-yard box.

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Toronto had 55.9 percent possession against DC and an XG (expected goals) of 2.3, despite going 10-7 in shots on goal (5-4 in shots on goal) compared to 0.8 for Atlanta.

Atlanta finished the previous season with 40 points, six points behind 13th-place Toronto.

Atlanta is undefeated (3-0-3) at home against Toronto in regular season play, but lost 2-1 to TFC in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Since then both the teams have gone through major changes.

Of the 18 players drafted to Toronto in that 2019 playoff game, only three remain with the team: captain Michael Bradley, fellow midfielder Jonathan Osorio and fullback Richie Laria. Guzan is the last man standing for Atlanta.

Toronto will see a familiar face on the Atlanta bench in the form of former goaltender Quentin Westberg. Last week, it was former ‘keeper Alex Bono among DC’s substitutes.

Atlanta midfielder Santiago Sosa is serving the final game of a three-game ban for using a homophobic slur in Atlanta’s match against New England on October 1.

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