Match Preview: Toronto FC vs. Atlanta United Saturday, June 25 BMO Field

Atlanta United plays the first of three consecutive away matches on Saturday when the club travels north of the border to take on Toronto FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. 

Atlanta United came out of the June international break and won twice at home. On June 19, the team beat Inter Miami 2-0 in MLS play. Goalkeeper Rocco Ríos Novo made his first career MLS start in goal, and Atlanta recorded a clean sheet for the first time since April 16. Earlier in the week, the 5-Stripes defeated current regular season Liga MX champions, CF Pachuca, 3-2 to lift the first-ever American Family Insurance Cup trophy

One of the biggest stories for Atlanta in those two matches has been the connection forming between Josef Martínez and Luiz Araújo. Of the team's five goals in those games, the two have linked up for four, which makes their attack-minded head coach very happy. 

“It’s great,” Gonzalo Pineda said. “Not just having the time together but the way they are connecting together is impressive."

Josef-Luiz-Celebration

Matchday Conditions

The conditions in Canada are expected to be a little nicer than the excessive heat that rolled through Atlanta this week. The forecast at BMO Field at kickoff is partly cloudy with sun and a high of 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

Canada’s Finest

Toronto FC is an Eastern Conference opponent based in Canada. It was the first Canadian team in MLS, followed by CF Montréal and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The club was founded in 2006 and entered league play in 2007.

Along with MLS, Toronto FC competes in the Canadian championship, which includes the three MLS teams in Canada plus 10 clubs in other Canadian professional leagues. Toronto FC has most Canadian Champions titles (7) and beat CF Montréal on Wednesday to secure the club’s seventh consecutive berth in the title game.

The Reds play their home matches at BMO Field, the first soccer-specific stadium in Canada with a field made of natural grass, where Saturday’s match will take place. The club’s main colors are red, black and gray. In its history, Toronto has had 12 head coaches and is currently managed by three-time MLS Coach of the Year, Bob Bradley.

“I think Bob Bradley is a coach that likes the intensity, that likes to always play in a certain way that tries to dictate the tempo of the games where there’s high pressure, good possession, disrupting lines, breaking lines through the middle,” Pineda said. “Obviously they have the quality to play all those styles and all those intensities, and I think it’s going to be a very intense match.”

History At BMO Field

Atlanta United and Toronto FC have met 11 times in the series history, and Toronto owns the series by one win (4-3-4). Atlanta United went unbeaten in three matches against Toronto in 2021 and won at BMO Field for the first-time ever on October 16, 2021.

The last meeting between the two sides was late in 2021 and resulted in a draw. Araújo scored in the 15th minute, capitalizing on a mistake by the goalkeeper, but Toronto found the equalizer in the 88th minute. It was the last home match for Atlanta United in the regular season and extended the team’s unbeaten streak at home to seven.

Luiz-Goal-2021

Testing Toronto’s Defense

Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup below the playoff line. Atlanta United is ninth in the table with 19 points (5-5-4) and Toronto is a few spots below in 12th with 15 points (4-8-3).

Toronto plays very well at home, earning 12 of its 15 points there. In the club’s most recent home match, Toronto earned a 3-2 victory over Chicago Fire. Dating back to last September, Toronto’s last seven MLS wins have all come at home. However, Toronto’s defense has struggled at times and the club has yet to record a clean sheet this season.

“We’re really training hard on the tactical side of this game, and we match up well with Toronto,” defender Brooks Lennon said. “So, we’re not taking this game lightly at all, and we’re going to use our tactics and the momentum that we had coming from the great win against Miami into this one.”

Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
Toronto FC
Atlanta United
Duel Percentage
52.5% (6th)
51.9% (7th)
Pass Percentage
78.6% (21st)
85.6% (1st)
Shot Percentage
44.6% (1st)
35.8% (12th)
Key Passes
90 (28th)
161 (1st)

Players To Watch

Josef Martínez – The striker returned to the starting lineup for the first time since April and contributed a goal and an assist in Atlanta’s win over Miami, a performance that earned him a spot on the MLS Team of the Week. It was Martínez’s fourth goal against the Herons in MLS and third goal in MLS competition this season. Martínez has scored at least four times against 15 different opponents in his MLS career including playoffs, including against Toronto (4).

Josef-Martinez-Goal-MIA

Jesús Jiménez – Atlanta’s backline shut down Inter Miami’s Leonardo Campana a week ago and will face another test in Jiménez. Toronto FC acquired the Spanish international in February, and so far the club is reaping the benefits. In 15 MLS matches played, the forward has taken 14 shots on target and scored seven goals. Most recently, he scored a goal in Wednesday’s semifinal match to help send the Reds to the Canadian Championship final.

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