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Nick Firmino, Tyler Wolff reflect on Toronto FC, look forward to Sunday’s afternoon match 

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After a road match against Toronto, the 5-Stripes are back to preparing for their next home match. On Sunday, March 31, they will take on Chicago Fire FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a 3:30 p.m. start.

With six players called up for international play, adjustments had to be made to the roster for the match against Toronto. Though the result was not what the team wanted, it was a learning experience for the younger players on the team including Nick Firmino and Tyler Wolff, who were both in the starting XI for the first time this season in Toronto.

The two players spoke to local media on Tuesday indoors on a rainy day at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground, discussing the match, what can be learned from it and the build-up to the game against Chicago.

Tyler Wolff

The homegrown player started his journey with the Atlanta United Academy. After a strong 2019 season, he signed with the first team in 2020. The 2023 season was a breakout year for Wolff, setting single-season career highs in games played, games started and goals. With some growth under his belt, and seven players unavailable for Atlanta, Wolff was a good candidate to start the match against Toronto, marking his first regular season start of 2024.

Being better in away games is a goal that has been pushed since the beginning of preseason by head coach Gonzalo Pineda and the players themselves. The club now has a split record of 2-2 in their first four games of the season, both wins coming at home.

“As a whole group mentality, I think we need to find ways to be better playing away from home,” said Wolff. “That's one of the key topics this year - how can we break down opponents and how can we control the game.”

Despite Saturday’s result, there is optimism around the progress made by the players that saw more time on the pitch. Wolff expressed positive sentiments about his fellow players, including midfielder Nick Firmino, and adapting to the necessary changes that took place for Saturday’s match.

“I think he [Nick Firmino] did well,” said Wolff. “It is a tough role to go in there where Thiago [Almada] plays. It is congested, a lot of players. But I think he did well.”

Nick Firmino

As an Atlanta United 2 mainstay, and signing a first team contract in October of 2023, the match in Toronto was the first MLS start in Firmino’s career.

“I thought it was good. Good moments,” said Firmino when asked about how he thought he did in his first start. “Obviously, tough game with the conditions. But I thought I did well. I tried to get touches on the ball in tight spaces. I tried to help the team progress the ball. Unfortunately, we did not get the three points but look to build on it for sure.”

The conditions Firmino mentioned included freezing temperatures and strong wind currents on both sides. Toronto FC came out of the gate with a more aggressive style in the first 45 minutes of the match. In the second half, down a goal, Atlanta had some good looks, but nothing came to fruition. They adapted in the second half and showed composure and patience – something they want to see coming into the next match on Sunday. With another practice and video session under their belts, the team is already looking forward to what needs to be done against Chicago.

“In the final third, have some better final passes,” said Firmino. “We felt like we had some good actions this last game, but we couldn’t finish it. Or maybe a missed touch or a missed communication. We need to be more dangerous in the box and take more chances.”

Atlanta United hope to get back into the win column this Sunday against Chicago Fire FC.

Best Photos: Atlanta United back on the road against Toronto FC 
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