Tomas Karageorgos | Report
On Saturday afternoon, Toronto FC played an important match on the road against Atlanta United; the score ended 2-2 as the clubs settled for a point each.
Just days after the MLS All-Star Game took place in Atlanta, Toronto FC star Sebastian Giovinco found himself playing on the same pitch, this time not against his former team in Juventus, but in Atlanta United.
Atlanta United is led by striker Josef Martinez, who is miles ahead of everyone else when it comes to scoring goals this season. Martinez is surprisingly lethal in the air, considering he is only 5’5″. Atlanta were without most of their starting defenders, which is why they switched to a back three against TFC. A key return into Toronto FC’s lineup was Auro; who creates opportunities from his flair and pace.
Atlanta controlled possession for most of the first half and created a few chances, one of the most prominent shots came from Martinez within close range, but goalkeeper Alex Bono was equal to the task. TFC’s backline weathered the Martinez storm pretty well, especially Eriq Zavaleta who won countless 1v1 battles against him. The Reds found a way through in first half injury time when Auro sent in a low cross to Giovinco, who scored and sent opposing goalkeeper Brad Guzan grasping at air.
The Reds came out confident in the second half, understandably so. Just five minutes into the second half, Atlanta were awarded a penalty on a questionable decision from the referee. Bono was face to face with Martinez when he stretched his hand out to poke the ball away, Martinez hit the deck and the referee pointed to the spot without hesitation. Martinez equalized from the spot, changing the game completely, and giving momentum to the crowd and his teammates. Atlanta kept pressing, leading to the go-ahead goal by Martinez yet again, who guided the ball into the net with the deftest touch off his head. TFC equalized in second half stoppage time when Jonathan Osorio sent a ball in across the face of goal towards substitute Tosaint Ricketts who bundled the ball in. Things got a bit chippy at the end of the match, when Chris Mavinga was sent off after nudging an Atlanta player. Mavinga will not be able to play in TFC’s next match when they host New York City FC on August 11th.
Out of the three meetings between Toronto FC and Atlanta United, all three have ended in 2-2 draws. It is safe to say that these two teams provide nothing less than an entertaining match.
Featured image by Jason Getz/USA Today Sports.