Atlanta United falls short to Toluca FC 4-3 in the American Family Insurance Cup


Atlanta United returned to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time in 2023, playing host to Liga MX side Toluca FC for the American Family Insurance Cup, a preseason friendly. After a fun back-and-forth, and a second half group that included several players from Atlanta United 2 and the Academy, the visitors pulled away with the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute to make Toluca FC this year's winner of the American Family Insurance Cup trophy.

First half - The 17s' Kit makes its debut, Brooks Lennon opens the scoring

The friendly marked the first time Atlanta United wore their new primary kit, the 17s' kit. The club revealed the new design earlier in the day and players debuted the kit during the match.

The home side nearly broke the scoring open in the first couple of minutes. The 5-Stripes had a takeaway around midfield and fed the ball to a streaking Luiz Araújo. The Brazilian's shot was blocked by goalkeeper Tiago Volpi, however a few Atlanta players were in the area for the rebound. Thiago Almada had a shot in the center of the box, but it sailed high. Almada had another shot a few minutes later that required a save from Toluca's keeper.

Atlanta United opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Brooks Lennon received a cross in the middle of the 18-yard box, made a nice turn and delivered a low driven ball with his left foot into the right corner to score the first goal of the night. Caleb Wiley was credited with the assist.

Just like that, Atlanta United came right back down and scored another goal minutes later. Lennon passed the ball up to Araújo, who carried it down the right side. He evaded a couple Toluca defenders, then touched the ball nicely twice with his left foot to convert the shot from close range. The hosts went ahead 2-0 in the 17th minute.

Toluca FC answered, however, to cut into Atlanta United's two-goal lead. A cross from the left corner got through and, in a congested area, forward Iván López was able to knock it past Atlanta goalkeeper Quentin Westberg to make it 2-1.

In some nice interplay toward the end of the half, several Atlanta United players connected for quick-touch passing that led to a shot. Almada passed the ball out wide to Wiley, who sent the ball back centrally to Matheus Rossetto. The captain made a quick one-touch pass to Almada, who sent the ball across the box to Chol. The striker needed one too many touches to make clean contact and the shot went high.

In the 43rd minute, Jackson Conway entered the match for Chol.

Toluca scored a golazo to equalize the match in first half stoppage time. After controlling the possession, the ball found the feet of Sebastián Saucedo. Westberg got a hand on the midfielder's shot, but the curler was perfectly placed and slid into the net.

We head into the next 45 even 2-2.

Second half - Luke Brennan scores his first career goal, Toluca FC scores go-ahead goal to win it

Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda sent on a new group to start the second half: Clément Diop, Aiden McFadden, Kofi Twumasi, Ronald Hernández (C), Nick Firmino, Alan Carleton, Ajani Fortune, Luke Brennan and Tyler Young. Noah Cobb and Conway remained to round out the new XI. Toluca also made a group of substitutions. 

In the 53rd minute, the young bucks put the ball in the back of the net to give their side the lead. Receiving a pass from Aiden McFadden, Ajani Fortune, getting his first minutes of the preseason, flicked the ball to 17-year-old Luke Brennan toward the top of the box. The youngster calmly collected the ball and scored a low driven shot to put Atlanta United ahead 3-2. It was Brennan's first career goal for the 5-Stripes. Both Fortune and McFadden were credited with assists.

Toluca answered in the 62nd minute behind a goal from midfielder Maxi Araújo. He found some space outside the 18-yard box. His shot froze Atlanta United goalkeeper Clément Diop and once again the score was even, this time 3-3. 

In the 69th minute, David Mejia subbed on for Fortune. 

A well-placed pass led to Toluca's go-ahead goal. Leo Fernández sent a long through ball to Camilo Sanvezzo sprinting up the pitch. Sanvezzo made a cut to knock Diop out of position and scored on a rolling ball to put the visitors ahead 4-3 in the 80th minute.

In the 89th minute, Danial Sebhatu replaced Tyler Young for Atlanta United.

The young XI showed a lot of heart in the three minutes of stoppage time but were unable to find the equalizer. Toluca FC won the friendly 4-3 to become the winners of the 2023 edition of the American Family Insurance Cup and take the trophy back home to Mexico.

Up next - Preseason concludes with a final friendly against St. Louis CITY SC, then the MLS home opener

Atlanta United's preseason schedule wraps up this weekend with a friendly against expansion club St. Louis CITY SC in St. Louis on Saturday. The match is closed.

Then, it's time for the MLS season to begin! Atlanta United's 2023 campaign kicks off at home against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, Feb. 25. It's a full-venue match, so you won't want to miss out. Buy tickets to the match as part of our 5-match ticket pack and secure your seat today!

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