Atlanta United Falls 2-1 to Toronto FC in Eastern Conference Final
ATLANTA - Atlanta United fell 2-1 to Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Final Wednesday night in front of 44,055 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Julian Gressel scored his second goal of the playoffs, but Toronto responded with a pair of goals to end Atlanta's run in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Atlanta opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Ezequiel Barco sent a through ball to Pity Martinez who was in on goal one-on-one with goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. Martinez drew Westberg off his line before passing across the box to Julian Gressel for an easy tap-in.
Atlanta had an opportunity to double its lead in the eighth minute when it was awarded a penalty. Jeff Larentowicz played a long ball for Pity Martinez behind Toronto's backline. Dribbling towards goal, the Argentine was taken down in the box from behind by Michael Bradley. Josef Martinez stepped to the spot in the 11th minute, but his attempt to the bottom left corner was saved by Westberg.
Toronto equalized shortly thereafter in the 14th minute. Laurent Ciman sent a long ball down the left side where it was gathered by Nicolas Benezet just outside of the box. Benezet dribbled toward the box before sending a curling shot into bottom right corner.
After halftime, Josef Martinez again nearly scored in the 58th minute. Barco backheeled a pass to Franco Escobar on right side and quickly sprang Martinez into box with a through ball. The Venezuelan dribbled down the right side of the box before ripping a shot into the side netting.
Toronto took the lead in the 78th minute with the eventual game-winning goal from Nick DeLeon. The midfielder took a shot from just outside of the 18-yard box that found the upper left corner.
Atlanta had chances late, most notably from Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who put a shot on goal in the 92nd minute that was pushed away for a corner. On the ensuing set piece, Gonzalez Pirez headed an attempt just wide of the right post.
Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs | Eastern Conference Final
Toronto FC 2, Atlanta United 1
Shots: 19-4 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 5-4 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 4-1 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 16-9 Toronto
Clearances: 20-5 Toronto
Offside: 3-1 Atlanta
Possession: 59-41 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 86-78 Atlanta
ATL- Julian Gressel (Pity Martinez, Ezequiel Barco) 4' [HIGHLIGHT]
TOR - Nicolas Benezet (Laurent Ciman) 14' [HIGHLIGHT]
TOR - Nick DeLeon (Alejandro Pozuelo) 78' [HIGHLIGHT]
TOR - Michael Bradley (yellow) 9'
TOR - Jonathan Osorio (yellow) 61'
TOR - Nick DeLeon (yellow) 70'
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan; Florentin Pogba, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst © (Tito Villalba - 81'), Franco Escobar; Ezequiel Barco, Jeff Larentowicz, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel; Pity Martinez, Josef Martinez.
Substitutes not used: Justin Meram, Alec Kann, Eric Remedi, Mikey Ambrose, Emerson Hyndman, Mo Adams.
TORONTO FC STARTING LINEUP
Quentin Westberg; Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow, Laurent Ciman, Auro (Patrick Mullins - 68'); Michael Bradley ©, Marco Delgado, Jonathan Osorio; Tsubasa Endoh (Richie Laryea - 45'), Nicolas Benezet (Nick DeLeon - 54'), Alejandro Pozuelo.
Substitutes not used: Drew Moor, Erickson Gallardo, Alex Bono, Omar GonzÃ¡lez.
Alan Kelly (referee), Ian Anderson (assistant), Nick Uranga (assistant), Nima Saghafi (fourth), Jon Freemon (VAR), Robert Schaap (Assistant VAR).
It was the first time in nine career postseason matches that Atlanta allowed multiple goals in a single game.
Atlanta had allowed just two goals in its previous eight postseason matches; one at home against NYCFC (Nov. 11, 2018) and one at New York Red Bulls (Nov. 29, 2018).
Julian Gressel scored his second career postseason goal. It was also the second of his 2019 postseason.
Ezequiel Barco picked up his second career postseason assist. He also had one against New England.
Jeff Larentowicz appeared in his 30th career postseason match, moving into a tie for 18th place all-time in MLS history among field players.
Michael Parkhurst started his 28th career postseason match, moving into a tie for 21st place all-time in MLS history among field players.
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