Toronto FC will once again compete in the MLS Cup Final after they were able to defeat reigning champions Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Falls, as reported by Pro Soccer USA and The Guardian.
Julian Gressel gave Atlanta the lead within four minutes, leading many to believe that they would ease towards the final for a second consecutive year. The visitors, though, had other plans, with Nicolas Benezet leveling things up with just 14 minutes on the clock.
It took until the 78th minute of the game for the Canadian side to break through once again, but it was worth the wait as Nick DeLeon scored what proved to be the winner.
Taking the next step
“We had our chances,” Atlanta manager Frank de Boer said. “The penalty and maybe a red card — I don’t know what the rules exactly are. You see a lot of times they give a red card in that moment and a penalty, and now they gave a yellow card. [If] it’s 2-0, they have to come more and [instead] they made quickly the equalizer.”
“Still I think we had enough time to recover. I think we didn’t react well to the long ball, and then he cuts inside and shoots well because it was the side of the net. But you know he’s right-footed, so we can do better, I think, in those cases. It was really the first time they tried to attack us, a long ball, and we knew that. We said, Ciman always wants to give long balls. He loves that, and still we get a little bit surprised and we get punished for that in that moment.”
Toronto FC, on the other hand, were understandably buzzing as they booked their place in this year’s MLS Cup Final.
Getting it done
“Early in the year we battled, we went through the midseason and kept our head above water, got our team back together and have been on a run,” said coach Vanney. “Tonight was similar. We were missing a couple of guys, but the group of guys that were out there, nobody outside of our club thought could maybe get it done except maybe our fans and us.”
“[The team] went and like true champions found a way tonight to get it done,” Vanney said. “Played with heart, played with grit, played with real character, resilience, made plays. Went down one really fast, had to come up with an incredible save by Q on the PK to keep us in it and then scored two incredible goals.”
Toronto will now turn their attention towards November 10, when they face Seattle Sounders in the 2019 MLS Cup Final. The two sides met two years ago at the very same stage, and on that night, it was Toronto who managed to pull the win out of the bag. They also competed against one another in the Cup Final three years ago, when the Sounders won on penalties.
Whether or not Toronto will be able to make it two titles in three years, however, remains to be seen.