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Late goal lifts Toronto FC over Atlanta in Eastern Conference Final

For the third time in four years, Toronto FC will be heading to the MLS Cup Final to face the Seattle Sounders after taking care of business on the road at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against defending champion Atlanta United.

Greg Vanney’s side hit back and spoiled the party in Atlanta, downing the Five Stripes 2-1 to return to MLS Cup.

After Seattle spoiled LAFC’s historic campaign on Tuesday night, Atlanta had its eye on winning its third trophy in 2019 to make some history of its own. However, after looking likely to have an early 2-0 lead it failed to break away, and a late personnel gamble by Toronto supplied a second upset victory in as many nights.

It didn’t take long for Atlanta to open up the scoring though, in the fourth minute they found a lead when Pity Martinez found space on a breakaway, drew Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg off his line, and passed to a wide open Julian Gressel to score into an empty net.

You would have thought that Atlanta was going to run away with it in the 11th minute it after Michael Bradley committed a foul in the box, setting up an ever-dangerous Josef Martinez penalty opportunity. Westberg didn’t get beaten this time though, as he dove to his right and denied the Venezuelan from doubling the hosts advantage.

Toronto responded moments later, evening things up thanks to a Nicolas Benezet golazo from the edge of the box. After Laurent Ciman found him in transition, Benezet tucked a looping shot in behind an outstretched Brad Guzan into the bottom-right corner.

Vanney was the first to blink in regards to making substitutions, bringing in Richie Laryea at halftime, then adding Nick DeLeon and Patrick Mullins in the 54th and 68th minutes respectively. All while his counterpart Frank De Boer held his cards and Michael Bradley was carrying the yellow card earned in the ninth minute.

The gamble would pay dividends. Heading towards the final whistle Toronto began to look its best, and in the 78th minute, DeLeon danced around three Atlanta shirts and blasted a rocket into the top corner from outside of the box.

Westberg would make two additional saves the remainder of the match to propel TFC to an upset win on the road. Despite Guzan coming up on a pair of corner kicks, the Five Stripes could not equalize as they suffered elimination in front of their home supporters.

TFC will face off with the Sounders for the first time since 2017, looking to claim its second MLS Cup in its history. The Sounders will be hosting the MLS Cup Final at CenturyLink Field for the first time.


  1. Seattle & TFC took care of business! Still an exciting MLS playoffs, even though, they aren’t the teams, I thought, would be in the finals. One more match to watch.

  2. Not sure why Atlanta keeps Martinez taking PKs, I haven’t seen even a fraction of them and he has missed enough in the fraction for me to say there has to be someone better.
    That game was OVER if he makes that PK.

  3. And now we will be forced to watch Toronto vs Seattle final in a giant Who Cares cup. I so wanted to see LAFC vs Atlanta play for the cup. IMO they are the best two teams in MLS. Now…. I may watch only if nothing better to do

    • Keep us posted Don. And thanks for at least thinking of watching, it means a lot to so many of us.

  4. Simple as that, Nick DeLeon delivered. Josepf Martinez did not. Greg Vanny promptly made in game adjustments in the second half. Frank DeBoa did not. Even the game commentator, Stu Holden brought up that Atlanta United has lost the momentum in the 2nd half. DeBoa failed to inject more energy by bringing in fresh legs. Soon after Toronto scored the game winner.


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