Toronto FC-Atlanta United Preview
Atlanta United FC might finally be in the midst of finding the form that led to an MLS title last season.
The reigning league champion aims for a third consecutive victory Wednesday night over visiting Toronto FC.
There's no denying the honeymoon period of last season's championship run for Atlanta (3-3-2) might have lingered into 2019. The club opened 0-2-2 before finally winning at New England on April 13.
Though it fell 2-1 at home to FC Dallas the next week, Atlanta has strung together back-to-back wins for the first time this campaign. A 1-0 home triumph over lowly Colorado was followed by Sunday's impressive 3-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City.
Reigning league MVP Josef Martinez had a brace and Ezequiel Barco recorded a goal with an assist as United rolled to it most convincing victory on the relatively young season. A result that could be a sign that Atlanta is back to the form many expected during this title-defending season.
"It's crucial to have these kinds of moments to boost," Atlanta coach Frank de Boer told the league's official website. "I think we dominated in every aspect (Sunday), and that's positive. That gives a boost to the confidence of our team."
Martinez, who's recorded three of his four league goals in the last three games, has four in three games versus Toronto. Barco, meanwhile, has four goals on the season but will be away for a spell with Argentina for the U-20 World Cup.
Atlanta won at least three in a row on four occasions during its magical 2018 campaign, but could find the test quite challenging against Toronto FC (5-2-1).
TFC will look to build on Saturday's 2-0 victory at Orlando City SC. Jonathan Osorio scored in the 65th minute and sub Jay Chapman added an insurance goal in the 77th as Toronto improved to 2-1-0 on the road.
"It's huge, obviously we go right to Atlanta for another really tough game," Chapman told Toronto's official website.
"It's a really big result - going forward on this away trip and giving us a benchmark on how to perform for the rest of the year."
Toronto has not won back-to-back MLS road matches since late in the 2017 season, and played to 2-2 draws in each of its two previous trips to Atlanta.
However, there's a chance Toronto could have star forward Jozy Altidore back on the pitch as early as this contest. The veteran, who has a team-leading five MLS goals, is right on schedule in his recovery from a hamstring injury that's sidelined him the last two games.
"Jozy's getting close," Toronto coach Greg Vanney told the official website of MLS. "He'll be questionable for Wednesday, probably likely for Saturday (against Philadelphia). We'll see. We're going to be smart with Jozy, but we want to get him back and ready to go full speed."
Updated May 6, 2019