Atlanta United vs. Toronto in MLS Eastern final

October 24, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) celebrates after he scored a goal in the second half during Eastern Conference semifinals of MLS playoffs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Atlanta United won 2-0 over the Philadelphia Union. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption
October 24, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) celebrates after he scored a goal in the second half during Eastern Conference semifinals of MLS playoffs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Atlanta United won 2-0 over the Philadelphia Union. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta United will host Toronto in the MLS Eastern Conference finals at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The game will start at 8 p.m. and be televised on FS1.

The Five Stripes advanced by defeating Philadelphia 2-0 on Thursday at home.

Toronto advanced by defeating NYCFC 2-1 on Wednesday at Citi Field in New York.

Atlanta United won the MLS Cup in 2018. Toronto won it in 2017. A few of the players who helped the team win the title are still on the team: Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, among others.

“They’re dangerous all over,” Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “I think the one thing that they have is in every position on the field they’ve got experience, it’s kind of a calmness. You can look at every single guy in that eleven and say ‘Yeah, he knows what he’s doing.’ And that’s tough. Every single time since 2017 we’ve played them it’s been a difficult game, and I expect nothing different on Wednesday.”

The teams split their two meetings this season. Atlanta United won 2-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on May 8 with goals from Hector Villalba and Julian Gressel.

Toronto won 3-2 at BMO Field on June 26. Atlanta United had a chance to earn a draw in the game’s final seconds, but Pity Martinez missed a penalty kick. Atlanta United’s goals were scored by Josef Martinez and Gressel. Toronto’s were scored by Alejandro Pozuelo and Tsubasa Endoh.

Atlanta United wasn’t at its best in that game. Pozuelo played as a false nine and gave the Five Stripes headaches because he would find pockets of space in Atlanta United’s defense. He did the same thing in the first half against NYCFC on Wednesday.

“Toronto FC is a very good team,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “They are a team that has been in big games, played in international tournaments, and competed against the best teams in North America. They have a lot of experience all over the field, and it is not going to be easy, but it is one that I am excited for.”

Toronto will have to deal with trying to defeat Atlanta United at home, where it is 8-0 this season in knockout competitions.

“A final is a final, man,” Josef Martinez said. “There’s only one option: to win. They played very well. That’s what I was told, but in the end everyone wants to win. They have a team with many experienced and talented players, but we have to think of ourselves and playing the final at home.”

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