It is safe to say that Toronto FC’s playoff hopes are officially over. Conceding four goals in back-to-back games during a playoff push would diminish any chance of making the postseason, for any team.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium has always been a difficult venue to play at, and the Reds have still never recorded a regular season victory in Atlanta.
The first big play of Saturday night’s match came in the 11th minute when Atlanta were awarded a penalty. Defender Shane O’Neill brought down Brooks Lennon in the box.
Quentin Westberg made his first start since July 13th and saved Luiz Araujo’s penalty in convincing fashion.
About 20 minutes later, TFC were gifted a penalty when the ball struck Amar Sejdić’s arm in the box. After review, the penalty was rescinded, but the VAR review was for a foul by Alan Franco on Federico Bernardeschi.
Bob Bradley made a double substitution at halftime as Jesús Jiménez and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty entered the match for Noble Okello and Domenico Criscito.
One minute later, the hosts opened the scoring with a goal from Juan Purata.
Toronto levelled the match in the 52nd minute as Ayo Akinola scored his first league goal since May 21st. Jiménez and Akinola linked up well to create the chance, which eventually ended up with the ball in the net.
10 minutes later, Purata added another goal, pretty similar to the first.
The Reds were awarded a penalty (the call stood this time) three minutes after conceding. Jiménez won the penalty, and Federico Bernardeschi converted it - that is the Italian’s eighth goal in 10 MLS games for the club.
After TFC tied it at two goals apiece, Doneil Henry was brought on for Lukas MacNaughton. This game marked Henry’s 100th appearance with the club during two stints.
Argentine midfielder Thiago Almada made it 3-2 for The Five Stripes in the 74th minute with undoubtedly the best goal of the game.
14 minutes later, Purata made it a hat trick - six goals on the season for the man on loan from Tigres.
TFC’s next match on the slate is next Saturday against reigning U.S. Open Cup champions, Orlando City SC.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 pm EST at Exploria Stadium.