Friday, December 3

Toronto FC removed from playoff photo after losing duel with Atlanta

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Toronto FC pulled out of the Major League Soccer playoff photo Saturday night, though the Reds, with apologies to Dylan Thomas, were certainly not kind on that good night.

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Atlanta United came away with a 2-0 win against TFC at BMO Field on goals from Luiz Araújo and Marcelino Moreno, officially eliminating Toronto from the MLS Cup playoffs with five games to play in the regular season.

The highly competitive and often tough game ended with a late-game uproar and great chances from both sides in overtime, with Moreno scoring in the 97th minute to seal the deal for Atlanta.

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The frustrations began to boil late in the game after Atlanta midfielder Ezequiel Barco hit the ground rather pathetically after being tapped from behind by Toronto’s Auro Jr.

A couple of minutes later, Jozy Altidore found herself in the middle of a scrum near Atlanta’s goal, which escalated with Auro and Barco receiving red cards in the 84th minute. Players from both teams pushed and shoved and argued for a few minutes. more and bad blood spilled all the way to the tunnel leading to the locker room, with an Atlanta coaching staff reportedly tackling Auro in the tunnel, which he did not. Sit down with Toronto coach Javier Pérez.

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Worse still for Toronto, midfielder Mark Delgado received a yellow card in the 92nd minute and will miss Wednesday’s game against Inter Miami.

Trailing 1-0 at the start of overtime, TFC center-back Omar Gonzalez was robbed of a goal on a header off a great save by Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan. That was a major turning point. TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono made a good save on a breakout from Moreno shortly after.

TFC is now officially playing for pride and to win the Canadian Championship title, beginning with a semi-final match against Pacific FC on November 3 at BMO Field.

Pérez expressed his pride in the way his club has played since he replaced Chris Armas in early July. Heading into the Atlanta game, TFC was undefeated in five games and had a two-game winning streak.

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“The team really fought to the end, it never gave up,” Perez said. “I also don’t expect them to give up now. We still have to fight for points and we are not a team that gives up easily. I am proud of the way we play. It has been an extremely difficult season for us. Many of the games did not go as we wanted and that reflects the characteristics of the season and I think it will make us stronger. We still have a championship to play for and having that goal towards the end of the season will help us stay strong and motivated (and) we will be a team that will come back and fight for titles. “

The Reds welcomed a trio of veterans to the lineup Saturday: Altidore (foot), Alejandro Pozuelo (quad) and Eriq Zavaleta (concussion).

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Pozuelo last played on August 27, Altidore saw action on August 7 and Zavaleta has not played since September 25. Altidore and Pozuelo entered the game as substitutes in the 61st minute with TFC down 1-0, a rare occasion. this season when all three Toronto designated players were on the field at the same time, along with Yeferson Soteldo. His presence seemed to trigger Toronto’s attack, although the home team could not find the back of the goal despite firing 15 shots, with four on target. Atlanta had nine on target.

There were concerns that Soteldo would not be able to play after returning from South America last week, where he represented Venezuela in the qualifying tournament for the World Cup. But he started at the front alongside Jacob Shaffelburg and Ifunanyachi Achara.

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The trio of TFC players who played in Canada’s 4-1 win over Panama on Wednesday night, Shaffelburg, Richie Laryea and Jonathan Osorio, were in the starting eleven against the Five Stripes, although all three appeared to be somewhat fatigued and they lacked their usual energy. . Atlanta was left without star forward Josef Martinez due to injury.

TFC nearly drew the first blood in the fourth minute when Achara made a good cross to Osorio just outside the center of the area and the Brampton native with his right leg hit the crossbar.

Atlanta’s best chance at first came via Barco’s free throw that was denied by Bono, who made a good second save seconds later on George Bello.

TFC defender Kemar Lawrence then deflected an Atlanta shot from Toronto’s crossbar.

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Achara, who committed the foul that led to Barco’s free kick, was injured on the play and was forced to leave the game a couple of minutes later. He was replaced by 17-year-old TFC sensation Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, who will likely have plenty of playing time as the season ends.

Lawrence, who was acquired by TFC in May, has really stood out on Toronto’s bottom line of late and played another solid game on Saturday.

Araújo’s goal came in injury time at the end of the first half starting with a good give and continuing with Bello finding Araújo in the area, and the Brazilian winger made a good shot with his left foot on Bono and inside the goal. Shortly after that, González avoided an Atlanta goal by making a save against Araújo. Moreno had another good chance in the 55th minute from outside the area with Bono making a good save.

Delgado appeared to take a penalty in the 62nd minute when Bello pushed him down into the box, but referee Timothy Ford fouled Delgado.

TFC will play Wednesday night against Inter Miami at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Reference-torontosun.com

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