Although the 5 Stripes Semi-Final game looks less daunting than the potential final against LAFC, or the Semi-Final against New England. Toronto is not a team that should be overlooked by any MLS fan though. Thankfully they do not have the small in stature yet powerful Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco since he leaving Toronto for the Saudi Club Al-Hilal. Upon leaving the club he decided to let his fans know why, posting this on his Instagram: “As I have always maintained, I was hoping to renew my contract and finish my playing career in a city that feels like home... Unfortunately, this desire of ours has clashed with a change in direction with current TFC management. For the two years I, have been seeking to extend my contract however management was reluctant... They may say I left for a more lucrative deal, but this is not the case... After having grown the brand and elevating the overall reputation of TFC both at home and abroad, it seems I no longer serve a purpose. I would have accepted less to stay in Toronto. Therefore, I reluctantly announce that my tenure as a TFC player has come to an end... With me, I bring beautiful memories. Toronto – the 6ix – you are and will always remain in my heart. Thank you for everything you have taught me about myself and life. I love you Toronto!”
Letting the Italian go was not a good choice for Toronto, as he accounted for around 80% of their goals during his time there and was the MLS Player of the Year in 2015, as well as winning the Golden Boot and also making the MLS- Best XI on three separate occasions. Toronto has certainly made up for whatever they gained in the letting go of Giovinco, as they have gained enough talent from the money to make it to the Conference Semi-Finals tomorrow against Atlanta United at 8:00 PM in the Mercedes Benz. Toronto sports the perennial starting striker for the U.S National Team in the past 2 World Cups with Joze Altidore taking over that responsibility. United States National Michael Bradley will also be in the cast for Toronto F.C.
Atlanta will also be missing our recent call up to the National Team, star CB Miles Robinson who is still recuperating from an injury. The 3 back systems will be a dangerous one to play against Toronto as they can be deadly on the counter-attack. Bradley has a great foot that can pinpoint the ball nearly anywhere on the field, and although he is starting to show his age, Joze is no slouch when it comes to getting in behind. He can be altogether surprising with his talent Altidore. When he is playing at his best he can be among the best in the MLS, but he has always seemed to be a very streaky player.
Atlanta will have most of our starting lineup ready to go tomorrow night and in the kind of form that any Atlanta fan wants to see their squad as they go into the Semi-Finals of the playoffs. As with any team, Atlanta should not overlook a very talented Toronto Team that has clawed and scratched its way to the pinnacle of the Eastern Conference. Truthfully it seems all eyes are pointed to LAFC after their dismantling of LA Galaxy 5-3 with Vela netting two goals. It does not seem like the 5 Stripes are overlooking the Toronto team, and FDB nearly always has his team ready for the matchups especially in the playoffs.
The game promises to be exciting, and with Martinez, Gressel, Barco, and many others playing a peak form Atlanta certainly seems to have a swagger. The beautiful goals scored by Martinez and Gressel were awe-inspiring, and the defense looked very stout. One thing is for certain, they are not going to lie down for Atlanta, and it’s more than necessary for Atlanta to come out with every bit of vigor and fight that we are accustomed too to make a 2nd appearance in the MLS Cup Final.