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Assessing Toronto FC’s Eastern Conference semi-final possibilities

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Who’s up first?

MLS: Toronto FC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

That was an entertaining game, and we could have another on our hands before long. Atlanta United will have to navigate a knockout-round tie as the MLS playoffs begin, while Toronto FC have a week off and a place in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in the bag.

Atlanta know they will host the Columbus Crew - apparently on Thursday night - while the Chicago Fire are at home to the New York Red Bulls.

TFC and New York City FC, though, will have to wait to find out their next opponents having secured the top two seeds in the conference.

So, who are TFC most likely to face?

MLS: Toronto FC at Atlanta United FC John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we don’t really know yet.

Toronto will face the lowest seed to come out of the two knockout ties so they can’t face Chicago, who finished third, until the conference finals.

If both of the home teams win their knockout matches, it’s straight back to Georgia to play Atlanta again. Given the dominance of home teams in MLS this year, I guess that’s the most likely outcome.

If either Chicago or Atlanta trip up, Toronto will face the team that beats them.

Should both of the home teams lose, Toronto will face the New York Red Bulls.

Chicago, who have not had Bastian Schweinsteiger on the pitch since September 5 and only got Juninho back for 19 minutes off the bench on Decision Day, would seem the more likely of the two home sides to stumble.

Who will TFC want to face?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Personally, I don’t think it makes too much difference.

They wouldn’t let anyone know about it but Toronto would surely be quietly satisfied if Columbus were to end Atlanta’s season early. That said, the Crew are on a fantastic run themselves and a victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium would say a lot of good things about their own chances.

Atlanta still stand out a little bit for two reasons: one, they have a ton of momentum behind them in that new stadium and two, they’re still the biggest unknown quantity from TFC’s point of view. Sunday’s match was a nice learning experience, but Miguel Almiron only saw a brief cameo off the bench and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s suspension led to a formation change.

In contrast, Toronto have been to Columbus (and Chicago) and won and controlled a game at Red Bull Arena they should have got more than a draw from. They also beat both the Crew and the Red Bulls at home, scoring nine goals in the process.

The Reds will be feeling confident, though, after a good performance in Atlanta. They have shown an ability to go to any stadium in the league and keep things close, and if they can do the business at home that’s all that will be required.