Toronto FC picked up a point on the road in their second match of the 2023 Major League Soccer season, drawing 1-1 with Atlanta United on Saturday evening.
The home side had the majority of the ball and scoring chances at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but Bob Bradley’s side was able to hold onto the result despite coming under significant pressure.
Without Lorenzo Insigne, TFC struggled to create many dangerous attacks, finishing the night with just four shots. Atlanta dominated the possession (67%) but would rue their missed chances at the end of the evening.
Free agent addition Sean Johnson was vital throughout the match, stopping five shots and coming to his side’s rescue on a number of occasions.
TFC allowed Atlanta plenty of the possession throughout the match, and the Five Stripes were given the freedom to unleash shots from distance. Midfielder Matheus Rossetto put Johnson to the test twice in the first half but the Atlanta native was equal to the efforts.
Keeping us level heading into the break.@SeanJohnGK | #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/aMb2p5lcgA— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) March 5, 2023
Toronto’s new no. 1 was called upon early and often, but he and the TFC backline were able to keep the match scoreless after the opening 45 minutes.
Starting striker Adam Diomande was subbed out of the match before halftime after pulling up with an injury in the 44th minute. He was replaced by Ayo Akinola, who was later replaced by Hugo Mbongue in the 73rd minute.
TFC came out of halftime with increased attacking momentum, and Federico Bernardeschi was able to unlock the game with a goal in the 52nd minute of action.
Decent left peg, that @fbernardeschi | #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/47N5s4R2Z6— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) March 5, 2023
Michael Bradley played a killer ball to the Italian winger and ‘Fede’ was then given the space and time to do some damage. Bernardeschi cut inside onto his favoured left foot and sliced the ball past Brad Guzan, to score his second goal of the season.
TFC’s lead didn’t last long though, with one of Atlanta’s 16 shots finally making its way into the goal. On a night when Johnson was faultless, even Atlanta’s goal couldn’t be blamed on the keeper. Another one of Rossetto’s shots finally made its way through, not before the ball took two deflections into the net. It was a rather unfortunate one for Johnson and Toronto to allow, but not undeserved from Atlanta’s perspective.
Atlanta was close to grabbing a winner, as Giorgos Giakoumakis put the ball in the back of the net, but Juanjo Purata was deemed offside in the buildup to the play. Giakoumakis was denied a goal on his debut by the slightest of margins, with the replays not showing conclusive evidence that the assistant referee made an error.
After notching the equalizer, Atlanta was the more threatening of the sides, but TFC was able to hold down the fort in the final 30 minutes of play and escape Georgia with their first point of the season in the bag.
TFC will welcome Columbus Crew to BMO Field for their home opener in their next match, scheduled for Saturday, March 11.