Atlanta United (15-9-9) will look to secure a home playoff match and potentially climb to the number two seed in their final match of the regular season as they host Toronto FC (20-5-8) on Sunday. Already with a Supporters’ Shield trophy and a first round bye in their pocket, Toronto is hoping to crack the single-season point record this weekend. With a lot on the line for both teams, this will be a Decision Day showdown you won’t want to miss.
Ahead of Sunday’s matchup, we broke down the Tools to the Match presented by Home Depot:
1) Stop Seba
A name that has almost become synonymous with Toronto due to his unmatched contributions over his three seasons with the team, Sebastian Giovinco leads the lethal TFC attack that has scored more goals than any team in the league this season (72). His elusiveness, crafty feet and prolific scoring ability makes him one of the best number tens in MLS. While he hasn’t notched the same 22 goals that earned him the 2015 Golden Boot award, he has 15 goals, six assists and the same fearless looming presence up front. Atlanta will want to avoid giving up any set pieces near the goal, because the Italian and can hit a dead ball like no one else in MLS history – after cracking the record for all-time free-kick goals this season.
2) Control the Center
At the heart of Toronto’s impressive side hoping to rewrite the history books are midfielders Michael Bradley and Victor Vazquez. Bradley has been an important cog in the midfield for the Canadian club, locking down the opposition, bringing composure on the ball and captaining them to the MLS Cup Final last season. Meanwhile, Victor Vazquez has made an immediate impact this season after joining the club in February. Recording eight goals and 16 assists, the Spaniard has proven his vision, awareness and technique as one of the best passers in the league. Shutting down this central midfield duo and cutting off the supply to Jozy Altidore and Giovinco will be key for Atlanta if they are to take down the top team in the league.
3) Mr. Clean Sheet
Since arriving in Atlanta in July, U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Guzan has proven a priceless pickup for the Five Stripes. The man between the sticks has earned eight clean sheets in just 13 matches he’s played in this year. He also possesses an incredible save percentage over that stretch, making 34 saves on the 41 shots he’s faced. In their most recent match at New York Red Bulls last week, Guzan made a few key saves to maintain the clean sheet including an incredible stop to deny last year’s Golden Boot Winner Bradley Wright-Phillips. Toronto’s defense has only kept one clean sheet in their past 11 road matches, so keeping their offense out of the net could go a long way toward securing a win.
How to follow
You can catch all the action from Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. EST, with the match broadcast on FOX Sports South or via Fox Sports GO. Click here for all details on how to follow the match.