Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United picks up three points against Toronto FC

Atlanta United continues on the road when the team travels to take on Toronto FC. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the match will be played in East Hartford, Conn. as Toronto FC plays its remaining matches this year in the U.S. instead of Canada. After earning a point in midweek action, getting three points on Sunday night would be a big boost to Atlanta’s playoff chances. The match kicks off at 7:30pm ET on Fox Sports Southeast. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.

Continue Solid Defensive Play

Atlanta United’s defense has been consistent for most of the season. The 5-Stripes have the best defensive record in the second half among all MLS teams. Miles Robinson and Anton Walkes had one of their best performances against Miami on Wednesday. Walkes tied the team’s single-match record with four blocks and had six clearances, while Robinson had three tackles, two clearances and two interceptions as they stifled Miami’s attack. The team has posted five clean sheets this season, giving them 45 since joining MLS in 2017 which is the most of any team in that timeframe. 

Stop Pozuelo, Stop Toronto

Alejandro Pozuelo is one of the best signings in MLS over the past couple of seasons. The midfielder is having an MVP-type of season for Toronto as he has scored eight goals and added 10 assists. Ayo Akinola has been on the end of several Pozuelo assists this season as he is tied for the team lead with eight goals scored. Toronto is fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield so Sunday night’s task will be a difficult one for the 5-Stripes. Keeping Pozuelo in check will go a long way to creating a positive result for Atlanta. 

Intensity, Quality from the First Minute

Atlanta United sprung into life against Miami in the 81st minute and were able to fight back and pick up a crucial point in the playoff race. One thing the 5-Stripes are looking for is to show that same level of intensity and quality from the first minute. It’s one of the things head coach Stephen Glass pointed to in the post-match press conference when asked about what his message at halftime was.

“We know we haven’t played the way we want to in the first half, but we are sitting here at 0-0 just like we were against the Red Bulls” said Glass. “I think putting that little extra belief in them, there was a response in second half. Inter Miami were still probably the better team until they scored, but from that point on you saw what we should be. We need to take that approach from the start of the game and not wait till we get scored on.”

Tune in to the match on Sunday night on Fox Sports Southeast when Atlanta United travels to East Hartford to take on Toronto FC at 7:30pm ET.