2021 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Ezequiel Barco (20')

Atlanta United blanks Toronto FC to win third straight

Ezequiel Barco gives Atlanta United the lead (0:57)

Ezequiel Barco opens the scoring for Atlanta United with this deflected effort. (0:57)

Atlanta United claimed their first three-game win streak by beating Toronto FC 1-0 on Wednesday.

In the 20th minute, Ezequiel Barco lifted United above the competition with his goal from the right side of the box. Barco's goal was created in part by Toronto defender Eriq Zavaleta, whose deflection forced the ball's path into the goal.

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Brooks Lennon created Barco's opportunity with a through ball and picked up an assist on the goal.

United, led by their momentum of the past few matches, came out of the gates hot. The addition of transfer forward Luiz Araujo gave Atlanta's offense a spark.

The Reds' first half left a lot to be desired, with only two shots on goal and 36 percent possession. At times Toronto's offense put themselves in positions to score, but United keeper Brad Guzan thwarted all attempts on goal.

The second half gave way to a more invigorated Toronto team. Toronto's aggressive second half gave the Five Stripes a good scare, but Guzan stayed strong and held off Toronto onslaught, finishing the night with three saves.

Atlanta outshot Toronto 21-14 and finished the night with 57 percent possession to Toronto's 43 percent. Toronto keeper Quentin Westberg matched Guzan with three saves.

In the end the Reds' aggression could have been seen as a reason for their defeat. They were in great positions to score down the half but five offsides penalties helped kill momentum.

Interim manager Rob Valentino has inspired Atlanta to a 3-2-2 record since the firing of Gabriel Heinze. Valentino is set to manage one more game for Atlanta, Saturday against D.C. United, before new head coach Gonzalo Pineda takes over.

Toronto's loss stretched its winless streak to five matches, and the Reds remained in last in the Eastern Conference. They are set to face Miami FC on Saturday.