Toronto FC has reached its third MLS Cup final in four years after defeating defending champion, Atlanta United, 2-1 in the Eastern Conference final.
Toronto will take on the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup final, just as they did in their last two appearances, with the two sides splitting the first two meetings.
Toronto Survives Early Onslaught to Reach MLS Cup
Back in 2016, Seattle came to Toronto and won on penalties after a 0-0 draw in regulation. The two teams met again at BMO Field in 2017, but this time, Toronto was able to earn a 2-0 win in regulation.
On Wednesday, Toronto FC had to travel to Atlanta to defeat a United side that finished second in the Eastern Conference this season with 58 points. Things looked grim for the visitors in the early going, as Julian Gressel scored on the counterattack just four minutes into the game to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead.
United had an opportunity to push its lead to 2-0 just a few minutes later, but Josef Martinez couldn’t beat Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg on a penalty kick, leaving the deficit at just one goal.
At the 14-minute mark, Toronto FC got on the board via its own counterattack, as Nicolas Benezet curled a goal in to tie the match at one.
While both sides would have chances throughout the game, it wasn’t until the 78th minute that Nick DeLeon fired a long-range strike past Brad Guzan to give Toronto the winning goal.
“Today was about resiliency,” Toronto manager Greg Vanney told FS1 after the match. “It wasn’t beautiful soccer…A lot of hard work by a lot of guys. A gritty, gritty effort.”
Atlanta Out Despite Dominating Match
The result was a bitter one for Atlanta, which had dominated for most of the game. In fact, both coaches seemed to share that assessment after the match.
“[Vanney] said, ‘We didn’t deserve it,’” Atlanta manager Frank De Boer said afterwards. “They are in the final. That’s the beauty of sports. It’s part of life. We had a wonderful season.”
“We probably didn’t win very many categories except for one – 2-1,” Vanney told reporters. “From a soccer perspective, they were a better team.”
Along with the surprising elimination of Supporters’ Shield winner LAFC on Tuesday, the MLS Cup final will now be contested by two teams with plenty of recent success, but which were significant underdogs in their respective conference finals.
In Sunday’s final, the hosts will take on the role of favorites. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Seattle is a -220 favorite to win the MLS Cup for the second time, with Toronto FC listed as a +160 underdog. For those prefer to bet on the regulation match, the Sounders are going off at -120, with Toronto at +280 and a draw fetching +260.