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Match Preview: Toronto FC host Atlanta United down in Hartford

TFC take on ATL looking to go nine straight without defeat.

SOCCER: OCT 30 MLS Cup Playoffs - Toronto FC at Atlanta United FC
Toronto’s Nick DeLeon (18) shoots and scores the game-winning goal during the MLS playoff match between Toronto FC and Atlanta United FC on October 30th, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TORONTO, Canada— Toronto FC host Atlanta United at their temporary Connecticut home in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference final.

The Reds look to make it nine in a row with at least a point against The Five Stripes on Sunday evening.

TFC is coming off a midweek stalemate with the New York Red Bulls where an early Alejandro Pozuelo penalty was cancelled out by a sensational strike from Red Bulls substitute Caden Clark.

Fatigue was clearly a factor on Wednesday with the congestion of the recent fixture list catching up to the Reds in the latter half of the game before ultimately coughing up the lead thanks to Clark’s 77th-minute finish.

It’s been a roller coaster year for Atlanta who started the season with two straight wins and looked primed for another deep playoff run in 2020. Since then, ATL has moved on from their manager and a key Designated Player, failing to string together consecutive victories since. They currently find themselves in tenth place and fighting for the final postseason places.

Atlanta stole a point in South Beach last time out when Jake Mulraney came off the bench to tie things up, salvaging a 1-1 draw against Inter Miami. Mulraney’s finish was United’s lone shot on target in the ninety.

Chance creation has been a big concern in recent memory for Atlanta with the departure of Pity Martinez doing little to help the cause.

The injury report for the Reds is much the same as the Red Bulls match as Justin Morrow and Jozy Altidore remain sidelined, with the latter a ways away from getting back to match fitness.

Greg Vanney will potentially get one big boost in midfield as captain Michael Bradley is expected to feature to some extent against Atlanta.

Injury concerns on the other side are focused on the continued absence of talisman Josef Martinez. The 2018 MVP and Golden Boot winner has been rehabbing the ACL injury he suffered in the first match of the season for the better part of seven months.

The potential return of Ezequiel Barco and new DP Marcelino Moreno to the squad should give Atlanta a boost heading into the weekend clash.

Since the Five Stripes joined MLS in 2017, the two sides have faced off seven times including last year’s playoff showdown, with TFC losing on just one occasion.

In a contest that averages nearly four goals a game historically, the prospect is there for plenty of goals at both ends in what should be a high flying affair in Hartford.

Additional Notes:

  • Alejandro Pozuelo continues to lead the league in goal contributions with 18 (8 goals, 10 assists) thanks to his PK on Wednesday.
  • Since entering the league in 2017, Atlanta has made the postseason in each of its first three seasons, reaching at least the Eastern Conference final on two occasions.

How to Watch:

Who: Atlanta United FC
When: Sunday, October 18, 7:30 PM ET
Where: Rentschler Field, Connecticut
TV: TSN 1/4
Radio: TSN 1050