MLS SOCCER

Preview: Atlanta is one win away from MLS Cup Final

Julian Gressel scored the game winner against Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

Atlanta United and Toronto FC will meet each other for the first time ever in the MLS playoffs Wednesday night. This matchup also features the last two teams to win MLS Cup, with Toronto winning in 2017 and Atlanta claiming its title last year.

The winner in Wednesday’s match will be crowned the Eastern Conference Champion and will advance to MLS Cup Final. 

The Five Stripes defeated Philadelphia Union 2-0 in the previous round, while Toronto won 2-1 against the No.1 seed New York City FC.

United and Toronto will face each other at 8 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Make sure to follow us on twitter @actionsports411 and @victortun09 for match updates and videos interviews with players and coaches after the game.

Here is a preview for each team:

Atlanta United (No. 2 seed Eastern Conference)

Only two teams remain in this conference and for the second year in a row, Atlanta is in a position to advance to MLS Cup Final. For the Five Stripes, the team is clicking on all cylinders at just the right time of the season, even with two key defenders out due to injury.

But the good news for Atlanta fans is that Michael Parkhurst returned to training this week, but it is unknown how match fit he is and whether manager Frank De Boer will include him in the 18-man roster. 

Talking about De Boer, he has been perfect in the two playoff games with not only his starting 11 but also with the substitutions he has made. Tactics wise, he has also successfully been able to change formations in the middle of the match and has put Atlanta in a position to win the game. On Wednesday, he will have to be perfect, or close to it, if he wants to advance to MLS Cup in his first year with the team.

Another player that fans and the team will count on will be Josef Martinez, the leading goalscorer for the Five Stripes. But Martinez is not afraid of the big games, he’s not afraid of scoring when it matters the most. Expect Atlanta to push forward from the initial whistle.

Toronto FC (No. 4 seed Eastern Conference)

The team from Canada is in the Eastern Conference Final for the third time in four years. They didn’t reach this stage last year, or even the playoffs, due to schedule congestion at the beginning of 2018 because of the CONCACAF Champions League and because of injuries to key players.

And while we’re on the topic of key players, it is still unknown if Jozy Altidore will be able to play but luckily for Toronto, the team will have Alejandro Pozuelo, a player that was chosen in the Best 11 of this season.

After upsetting the No.1 seed last week, Toronto will look to win another match away from home and play in MLS Cup Final for the third time in four years. The team won it all in 2018.

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