Atlanta United went up twice to close in on the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed, but Toronto FC prevented them from grabbing it each time en route to setting an MLS record.
A spectacular late free kick from Sebastian Giovinco saw Toronto FC tie Atlanta United, 2-2, in their regular-season finale at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday evening. The result saw Toronto set the MLS mark for most points in a single campaign, and prevented Atlanta from securing a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Giovinco's stupendous effort from distance in the 84th minute canceled out a neat Josef Martinez flick 10 minutes earlier. Prior to that, Jozy Altidore struck at the hour-mark to negate the opener that Yamil Asad scored from the spot in the first half.
- 31' – ATL – Yamil Asad (PK) Watch
- 60' – TOR – Jozy Altidore Watch
- 74' – TOR – Josef Martinez Watch
- 84' – TOR – Sebastian Giovinco (FK) Watch
- INTENSE: From the boos that rained down on Altidore and Michael Bradley every time they touched the ball to the back-and-forth blows the teams exchanged over the course of the 90 minutes, this was an entertaining and fierce affair that could be a preview of what is to come in the playoffs. Atlanta took two leads -- the first of which came after a Video Review -- in front of the record crowd of 71,874, but Toronto showed resilience and responded each time despite having little to play for. Bradley even came up with a timely block in front of the goal line late in the game to keep Toronto in it.
- JUST IN TIME: While Atlanta will be disappointed with having to settle for the No. 4 seed instead of No. 2, they will be pleased to have brought Miguel Almiron back into the fold just before the start of the postseason. Almiron played in his first match since suffering a hamstring injury on Sept. 24, coming off the bench in the 61st minute of Sunday's tilt. The Paraguayan international looked good during his time on the field, too, showing his trademark burst of speed and playmaking ability. He even recorded an assist by helping set up Martinez's go-ahead goal with 14 minutes to play.
- CELEBRATION TO REMEMBER: One of the more memorable moments in this match came at the hour-mark after Altidore stabbed home Toronto's first equalizer. Altidore celebrated his goal with an 'I can't hear you' taunt that was directed at Atlanta United's rowdy supporters, and Giovinco joined in on the fun by grabbing a plastic cup that was tossed onto the field and taking a sip of whatever was in it.
- ATL: Oct. 25 or 26 – vs. Columbus Crew SC
- TOR: TBD, Eastern Conference Semifinals Leg 1 (at winner of ATL-CHI on Thu. October 26)