Atlanta United won their third straight match after downing Toronto FC 1-0 at home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ezequiel Barco found his name on the score sheet and Luiz Araújo made his Major League Soccer debut. Tonight also marks back-to-back wins at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the five stripes.
It was all Atlanta in the first half as their front four in attack were ruthless. The combination of Ezequiel Barco, Marcelino Moreno, Josef Martinez, and recent transfer Luiz Araújo, gave Toronto’s Quentin Westberg all he could handle in goal.
Atlanta United eventually broke the deadlock in the 20th minute. Ezequiel Barco sent a long-range effort from just outside the 18 that curled by the far post. It took a slight deflection, but either way, Westberg never had a chance.
The second half was a different story.
Toronto made two critical changes in the second half bringing in Alejandro Pozuelo and Yeferson Soteldo. The addition of Kemar Lawrence aided the Canadians in defense and was noticeable as Toronto FC started to press.
Pozuelo and Soteldo had multiple chances after coming on but they either went over the bar or Brad Guzan deflected them away. In the 70th minute, Pozuelo hit a half-volley from a cross into the box that Guzan parried impressively.
It looked like Atlanta had nailed the final blow in the 87′ but the would-be goal by Erik Lopez was called offside. Josef Martinez had received a lob unmarked in the box but he made his run just a hair too early.
The five stripes had a plethora of opportunities but couldn’t convert their chances, a weakness that will prove troublesome as they continue their fight for a playoff spot.
Atlanta United will savor their return to the winning spirit before preparing for their trip to the nation’s capital where they’ll face DC United on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 7:00PM ET.
Photo: Hakim Wright