Atlanta United FC are odds-on favorites per the soccer betting odds to make it back to the MLS Cup Final. Last year’s MLS Cup winners are out to defend their title, and they will take on the 2017 league champions for Eastern Conference supremacy. Toronto FC have shrugged off an awful 2018 to rejoin the elite clubs in the MLS. They beat Atlanta 3-2 north of the border in late June, but the Five Stripes beat them 2-0 in Atlanta earlier in the year.
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- Atlanta United FC vs. Toronto FC
- Date and Time: October 30, 2019, 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
- US Television Coverage: FS1
- Betting Line: Atlanta United FC -0.5 and -1, O/U 3 and 3.5
How They Got Here
The defending MLS champions did not get off to a great start this season, but Atlanta United have come on strong over the second half of this campaign. They finished as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, and they have yet to allow a goal in the playoffs thanks to Frank de Boer’s defense first philosophy.
Atlanta will be hosting this match thanks to Toronto upsetting New York City FC last week. The Five Stripes shut out the New England Revolution 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs, and they knocked off the Philadelphia Union 2-0 on Thursday.
Toronto are the only underdog left in the MLS playoffs. They ended the regular season on a 10-match results streak to earn the right to host their first postseason game. It appeared they would grab a 1-0 win over D.C. United, but a Lucas Rodriguez goal in the third minute of extra time forced an extra 30 minute of action. The Reds responded from there by scoring four goals in the additional frame to win 5-1.
Two horrendous mistakes from NYCFC’s back line led to Toronto pulling off the upset last Wednesday. Alejandro Pozuelo pounced on a terrible back pass to open the scoring for the visitors, and he got the chance to knock home the game winner after an awful challenge led to a penalty in the 90th minute. Pozuelo showed no fear by beating Sean Johnson with a Panenka, sending Toronto through to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Five Stripes have been without veteran defender Brek Shea for the last three-plus months, and they are set to be thin in the back line on Wednesday night. Miles Robinson will miss this match with a hamstring injury, and captain Michael Parkhurst is questionable due to a shoulder injury. Parkhurst’s availability is a big story to monitor prior to the game.
Jozy Altidore has yet to suit up for Toronto FC in the postseason, and he is questionable again this week with a strained quad. Defender Omar Gonzalez is questionable too with a hamstring issue.
Atlanta United FC Player to Watch
Josef Martinez has been the best player in the Eastern Conference this season. Martinez notched 27 goals (12 more than anyone else in the conference), and he has scored 82 goals in 91 career MLS matches. He set a record by scoring in 12 straight games earlier this campaign, and there’s no doubt that he is the key to everything up top for Atlanta.
Toronto FC Player to Watch
Pozuelo led Toronto in goals this season, and he will look to counter Martinez. He failed to score against D.C. United, but he bagged both goals against NYCFC to send the Reds to Atlanta. With Altidore banged up, Pozuelo’s performance will have a pronounced effect on this match.
Brad Guzan’s run of clean sheets will come to an end, but last year’s defending champions will pull through and advance to the MLS Cup Final.
MLS Eastern Conference Finals Prediction: Atlanta United FC 2, Toronto FC 1
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