Fresh off a 3-0 victory on the road in Kansas City, Atlanta United are looking for their fourth win in five matches as they return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium Wednesday night to host Toronto FC. Just like Atlanta, Toronto enters the match coming off a big road win and clean sheet themselves topping Orlando last Saturday 2-0. It’s 2017 MLS Cup Champions visiting the reigning champions, so this midweek matchup is one you don’t want to miss.
Tickets for that match are still available here. But if you can’t make it to the stadium, make sure to tune in at 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Southeast or FOX Sports GO. For all the details on how to follow the match, click here.
Atlanta United (3-3-2)
After a tough start to the season with congested Concacaf Champions League play and the acclimation of a new coaching staff in charge, Atlanta now have three wins in their last four with multiple games still in hand on most of the competition. A statement victory on the road against Sporting KC Sunday night will certainly have the Five Stripes fired up to deliver a similar performance Wednesday in front of their home fans.
Leading the charge on the offensive end has been Argentine youngster Ezequiel Barco who – for the second time this season – was named MLS Player of the Week on Monday. But Atlanta United will be without their joint leading goal scorer for the foreseeable future as Barco heads off for international duty at the U-20 FIFA World Cup with Argentina. Fortunately, head coach Frank de Boer has plenty of offensive firepower at his disposal. Reigning Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez is back on track after bagging a brace this weekend, Pity Martinez and Julian Gressel were both actively involved in the attack that pummeled Sporting’s defense, and Tito Villalba’s pace and knack for the spectacular can’t be forgotten.
Their attack has certainly been rejuvenated over the last month, but Sunday’s 3-0 win also marked Atlanta’s third clean sheet in four matches. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan has been a rock in net, and center back pairing Leandro González Pirez and Miles Robinson have kept the back line organized. And with a few injuries in the roster, last match saw Captain Michael Parkhurst put in a solid shift at left back while Franco Escobar is now back fully healthy on the right. This is a team firing on all cylinders with two matches this week –– and they’ll be hoping the raucous home-field advantage from their loyal 17s will help push them to another impressive win.
Toronto FC (5-2-1)
Despite missing the playoffs last season, Toronto FC has been one of the best clubs in recent MLS history. Reaching MLS Cup in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017 –– and raising the cup in the latter –– and advancing to the 2018 Concacaf Champions League Final, Greg Vanney’s side is a championship-caliber team. Just like Atlanta, they’re sitting mid-table but have a number of games in hand. They’re looking for their third win out of four as they too look to climb up the standings to their usual highs in the Eastern Conference.
At the heart of Toronto’s recent success is their solid midfield trio comprised of two U.S. internationals in Michael Bradley and Marky Delgado and Canadian international Jonathan Osorio. With Bradley’s experience mixed with Delgado’s energy and Osorio’s creativity, it’s one of the most productive midfield cores in the league. And while the offseason saw the departure of their long-time danger man Sebastian Giovinco, his replacement seems to be fitting in just fine as Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo has already tallied four goals and six assists in just six matches. Toronto may be without their leading goalscorer for the third straight match on Wednesday as Jozy Altidore remains questionable for the lineup, but with young talent like Jordan Hamilton Ayo Akinola fit and firing, they have plenty of firepower in the attack.
With as much class as they have going forward, Toronto is a team equally adept on the other side of the ball. Chris Mavinga and Justin Morrow’s left side partnership has blossomed over the last few seasons while the addition of MLS veteran and former MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman in the center of the back line has bolstered the defense. But there are still vulnerabilities for a side that have conceded 13 goals in eight matches so far this season. Atlanta United will be hoping their attack can exploit that to turn the Mercedes-Benz Stadium crowd into the intimidating fortress it has been for the past two years.
Wednesday is shaping up to be quite the matchup between two in-form sides looking to take advantage of their games in hand to climb up the table. Make sure to tune in at 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Southeast or FOX Sports GO, or listen to the match via 92.9 The Game, La Mejor Atlanta or via the Atlanta United App. For more info on how to follow all the action, click here.