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.