Atlanta United face off against a red-hot Toronto FC this Sunday evening at 4:00 p.m. EST at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta. The match takes place on Decision Day 2017, also known as the final day of regular season matches.
Although United has already clinched a playoff berth, there is still plenty on the line. Atlanta United are chasing for the second seed and a first-round bye as they host Toronto, who has already been crowned as the Supporters Shield winners. The most recent matchup between these two sides, it ended in a riveting 2-2 draw, and this game looks to be just as exciting as Toronto wish to beat the all-time single-season point record and Atlanta tries to guarantee a home playoff game. Attacking midfielder Julian Gressel touched base on the task at hand and said, “They’re very good individually, but I think they’re even better as a team. They play together, and they’re very accustomed to the style that they play, and they’re good within the system they play.”
Even though the Five Stripes have a chance to get the number two seed, there are many factors that need to take place for it to happen. United needs to beat Toronto while needing NYCFC to lose or draw against Columbus, and they also need Chicago to lose or draw against Houston. Additionally, if NYCFC ties, they would be even on points with United, as well as even on the first tiebreaker, which is regular season wins. The second tiebreaker, which is goal differential, would then go to Atlanta. So, it is safe to say that the second seed is not entirely in Atlanta’s control.
To get the third seed, Atlanta United would need to win and have either NYCFC or Chicago to lose or draw, instead of requiring both to lose or draw as is the case for the second seed. However, if the Five Stripes win Saturday against Toronto FC and no other results go Atlanta’s way, they will end up with the four seed.
“We know that we control our own destiny as far as getting third or fourth place, and that’s very important. We want to have a home game if we play in that opening round, and getting a victory ensures that. As long as we take care of our business, whether we finish second, third, or fourth, so be it.” Captain and center back Michael Parkhurst said
This match will be a battle between the two highest scoring teams in the MLS this season. Toronto is the only team who has scored more goals this season than the Five Stripes, but they have only kept one shutout in their last 11 road games, conceding 16 goals in that time period. Therefore, Sunday will be an excellent opportunity for Atlanta United to use their home form to their advantage against the best team in the league as they look to ensure at least one more game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium this postseason. More than 70,426 tickets have already been sold for Sunday’s match, and it is the club’s second record-setting attendance of the season. So, make sure to tune in to this matchup of MLS giants on Sunday.