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Atlanta United
Major League Soccer
Mar 5, 2023 at 12.30am UK
Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Toronto FC

Atlanta
1 - 1
Toronto

Rossetto (60')
Ibarra (56'), Etienne (64')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Atlanta United vs. Toronto - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Atlanta United and Toronto, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Following a dramatic come-from-behind victory last weekend, Atlanta United have a chance to win their opening two matches of an MLS season for the first time since 2020 when they host Toronto on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

A pair of injury-time goals enabled the Five Stripes to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1, while TFC conceded twice in the dying stages of their first match, dropping a 3-2 decision at DC United.


Match preview

Atlanta United FC midfielder Thiago Almada (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in stoppage time against the San Jose Earthquakes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 25, 2023© Reuters

Following a turbulent 2022 campaign filled with off-field distractions and infighting in Atlanta, a fresh start was sorely needed.

In their season opener, they showed plenty of character in the latter stages as some individual moments of brilliance enabled them to steal three points.

Atlanta have already claimed victory once this season despite conceding the opening goal, matching their achievement from the previous campaign.

Dumping all-time leading goalscorer Josef Martinez was a big move for manager Gonzalo Pineda and the front office to try to bring more harmony and unity in the locker room.

Last season, this team averaged over 57% possession per game, the highest among MLS sides, showing patience in their build-up, and that approach eventually paid off in their season opener.

Two of the next three encounters for Atlanta will be under the dome at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Five Stripes have dropped just one of their last five regular season affairs since September 2022.

Toronto FC midfielder Federico Bernardeschi (10) reacts after scoring a goal against D.C. United during the second half at Audi Field on February 25, 2023© Reuters

Toronto got another first-hand lesson on what happens when you get complacent, losing for the fourth consecutive time away from home in this competition, a streak that dates back to the previous campaign.

On Saturday, the TFC back four had three players making their regular season debuts with the Reds, and even though the new centre-back pairing was solid, their midfielders failed to track some DC runners in the latter stages, as they blew a 2-1 lead in the final seven minutes plus stoppage time and came away with nothing.

While pleased with how his side responded from a disappointing opening 45 minutes last Saturday, Bob Bradley said afterwards that his players were too sloppy at times on the back end, particularly on second balls.

Away from home, the Reds' penalty area has looked like a shooting gallery for the opposition, with Toronto conceding 15 goals in their last four regular season encounters on the road.

Another old habit from last year crept up for the Reds last weekend as they gave up the opening goal for a fifth straight time in the regular season.

TFC have never won a regular season encounter on the Five Stripes' home field, dropping a 4-2 decision against them in their previous visit last September.

Atlanta United Major League Soccer form:
  • W

Toronto Major League Soccer form:
  • L



Team News

Franco Ibarra in action for Atlanta United on August 28, 2022© Reuters

Tyler Wolff missed the opening game for the Five Stripes with a shoulder strain, Machop Chol was out due to a sore hamstring, Osvaldo Alonso continues to recover from his ACL injury, Santiago Sosa will sit this one out through suspension and the club is still working on a visa for Giorgos Giakoumakis, who signed with them in early February from Scottish Premiership champions Celtic.

World Cup winner Thiago Almada rescued his side on Saturday with two brilliant goals in added time, becoming the first player in club history to net twice after 90 minutes and the first person in MLS to do it since former Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak in 2018.

Luiz Araujo has three goals in his career versus the Reds, as does Juanjo Purata, who had a hat trick in this exact fixture last season, while Andrew Gutman made four key passes in their season opener.

The return of Victor Vazquez to Toronto will have to wait as the Spanish midfielder missed their opener with an upper-body issue, Themi Antonoglou is dealing with lower-body problems, while the team will be keeping a close eye on the health of Lorenzo Insigne, who according to his coach felt something in his lower leg and was replaced by Ayo Akinola in the opening half last weekend.

Federico Bernardeschi notched his first of the campaign in their opener, converting from the penalty spot after Richie Laryea was fouled in the box, while Mark-Anthony Kaye scored for the first time since joining the Reds last season in a trade from the Colorado Rapids.

Matt Hedges and Sigurd Rosted were paired together at centre-back, holding DC to 0.9 expected goals, while goalkeeper Sean Johnson had a difficult debut, conceding three of the five shots that he faced.

Atlanta United possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Lennon, Purata, Robinson, Gutman; Ibarra, Rossetto; Sejdic, Almada, Araujo; Etienne

Toronto possible starting lineup:
Johnson; Laryea, Hedges, Rosted, Petretta; Bradley; Osorio, Servania, Kaye; Diomande, Bernardeschi


SM words green background

We say: Atlanta United 2-1 Toronto

The Five Stripes should have the bulk of the possession as usual, and we believe that they will be able to expose the Toronto frailties out wide and maintain their unbeaten record at home against them in the regular season.

How to watch

You can watch Atlanta United vs. Toronto and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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Game History

How you voted: Atlanta vs Toronto

Atlanta United
91.7%
Draw
0.0%
Toronto
8.3%
12
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