TORONTO, Ont.—Toronto FC are headed to Atlanta to try and hoist the MLS Eastern Conference trophy for the third time in four seasons.
Of course, the trophy itself already resides in Atlanta. One could imagine it may be living right beside the MLS Cup. Or the US Open Cup. Or even the Campeones Cup. (fight me!)
If the 2016-2017 Toronto FC teams were silverware collectors, the new players in the trophy game are now Atlanta United, and deciding who gets the chance to keep the MLS Cup in the East will come down to Wednesday night under the Atlanta sky.
Here are some numbers to keep an eye on heading into Wednesday’s match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
SORRY, NOT SORRY
Toronto will hope to have Omar Gonzalez back to health, anchoring their much-improved backline. Their second half turnaround can be well traced to their stinginess at the back.
Over their past 16 competitive matches, TFC have NOT allowed three goals, and have only allowed a pair on three occasions (resulting in a win and two draws).
In the 24-year history of MLS Cup Playoffs, no team has won three matches in-a-row in the 90th minute or beyond. Teams have managed to turn the trick twice on five occasions.
Toronto will hope to do their business in the first 89 minutes, but if they find magic in the glow of the fourth official’s board, they’ll become the first club in league history to do so.
Jonathan Osorio has inked his name on the scoresheets of 21 opponents with the Reds — but none of those opponents come from Georgia.
If Oso — whose tail is wagging of late — finds the back of the net, it will be the 22nd opponent on which he’s scored: setting a new club record.
MAKING A RUN OF IT
Toronto will also look to win 3+ matches in their third consecutive playoff appearance. I’m mostly just showing this chart to remind everyone (including myself) that the Reds scored FIVE goals and conceded only TWO in FIVE FULL MATCHES on their way to their 2017 star.
FIVE + DIME
Alejandro Pozuelo — he of the MLS Starting XI Pozuelos — is one cheeky paneka or one screaming top-corner worldie away from becoming the fifth member of Toronto FC to score 15 goals for the club in a calendar year.
THE EVER-FAMILIAR GINJA NINJA v. THE REDS
Toronto should well expect to face a familiar foe in Atlanta. Jeff Larentowicz is second on the all-time appearance list for opponents for the Reds.
Larentowicz is the only player other than recently retired Chad Marshall to face Toronto in each of their 13 seasons in the league.
MOVING UP THE QUEUE
If Quentin Westberg manages yet another heroic playoff outing and the Reds move past Atlanta, it will be the FIFTH season in a row that Toronto’s first choice keeper has had at least dozen wins — a feat shared between FOUR keepers!
THE HEAD AND HIS CENTURY
And finally, Head Coach Greg Vanney is two wins away from The Century since taking over September 1, 2014 — and is now a tidy 80 wins ahead of Aron Winter. Let’s put some respect on his name.