Atlanta United defeated Toronto FC 2-0 Wednesday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This victory marked the first victory for the Five Stripes against the team from up north, as they had drawn three times and lost once prior to Wednesday’s game.
For Atlanta, a goal from Tito Villalba and Julian Gressel marked the difference in the scoreboard but on the field, Atlanta (4-3-2) dominated the match from the initial whistle and secured its third victory in a row and its fourth in five games.
“Yeah, it’s a big win for us of course. We only had two days of rest, we could barely train. Do some walkthroughs and prepare how we want to press. We thought they could potentially play with three or five at the back,” Atlanta United manager Frank De Boer said. “This helps us now, because it is a tough period with the amount of games. It gives you extra energy for the next game with a good result like tonight. When the results aren’t as good, you can see some aches with the players come up. Now, everybody wants to be involved, and that’s always the case in these kind of situations when you win.”
The Five Stripes took the lead at the 17th minute when a free kick by Pity Martinez was saved by Toronto’s goalkeeper Alex Bono and the loose ball was quickly crossed into the six-yard box by Josef Martinez and Villalba was able to tap the ball into the back of the net. This was Villalba’s first goal of the 2019 season.
“I said it a while ago. That’s what I train for. When it’s my turn to have an opportunity to be at 100 percent and perform in this way. Today, it happened,” Villalba said. “Many times, I come in and don’t score or assist so that’s what it’s about, doing what’s best for the team to win. If I’m scoring goals that’s great, or assisting, but if not,the important thing is the team.”
Later in the game, at the 67th minute, Villalba found Gressel on the right side of the field, a play in which Gressel took a shot at the goal and after a slight deflection from a Toronto defender, the ball ended in the back of the net.
After Wednesday’s match, Atlanta has now moved up to seventh place in the Eastern Conference and will look to continue the winning streak, as the team hosts rival Orlando City Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.