Atlanta United 2 Toronto FC 1: Player ratings as hosts secure win with a bizarre goal in their latest MLS game

  • Atlanta took 8 points from a possible 12 in their last four games
  • Thiago Almeda and Jamal Thiare with the goals
  • Resurgent Atlanta is enjoying life with interim boss Rob Valentino
Federico Bernardeschi #10 (L) and Caleb Wiley #26 (R) in...
Federico Bernardeschi #10 (L) and Caleb Wiley #26 (R) in... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Atlanta United bounced back to winning ways after cruising past Toronto FC 2-1 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It took a first-half strike by Thiago Almeda and a second-half strike by Jamal Thiare to seal the victory for the Five Stripes. Both teams lacked critical players due to suspension, injury, or international duties but gave the spectators a treat.  

The last time these two teams met in Toronto, Atlanta was blanked 2-0 by the home team in icy conditions on March 23rd, 2024. Tyrese Spicer and Prince Owusu scored on that day. In the current head-to-head, Atlanta United has a record of 4-6-6 in matches against Toronto. In the last three games, Atlanta has drawn one, lost one, and won one, 1-1, 2-0, and 2-1.  

Toronto FC entered the game three points above Atlanta United, having played a game more, and was seeking to stop the bleeding while Atlanta was trending upward on the MLS table to secure a playoff spot. Toronto FC is now 0-4-1 in their last five MLS matches, with all four games being losses.  

The game started slowly in front of 42,568 spectators who had their appetites soaked before the game, with a 2-0 victory by Germany over Demark and a 2-0 victory by Switzerland over Italy in the European Championship 2024 in Germany. The MLS match-up was the cherry on the pie for football lovers, offering some fireworks as usual.  

How the game unfolded 

After only 25 minutes, Toronto FC thought they went in front. Lorenzo Insigne headed home from a teasing cross from Federico Bernardeschi, but the goal was chalked off as he was judged to have been in an offside position. All that happened just after Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, who could not put a foot wrong, was the quickest to get in a block to deny a fine right-footed shot from Ajani Fortune as the hosts' search for a home victory continues.  

Atlanta United’s second opening came when Caleb Wiley picked out Tristan Muyumba with a sensational ball over the top. His first touch was exquisite, but his right-footed shot from outside the box was close but missed the top left corner. The breakthrough came moments later when Daniel Ríos, who turned provider for Thiago Almeda, whose shot from the top of the center of the box, whistled past the hapless Luka Gavran for a 1-0 lead just before the break. In time added on in the first half, Federico Bernardeschi collected an excellent pass from Insigne. He then dropped his shoulders to outfox Wiley before unleashing a ferocious left-footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner to make it 1-1.  

After play resumed following the half-time break, Derrick Williams's right-footed shot from the centre of the box was expertly saved in the top left corner by Gavran. Atlanta could have been made to pay for a missed opportunity when Federico Bernardeschi was set up ingeniously by Lorenzo Insigne, but his shot was blocked by Stian Gregersen.  

 Another chance went begging in the 84th minute when Toronto FC was caught high up the pitch, and Brooks Lennon released Jamal Thiaré on the counter, but his header from the left side of the six-yard box was high and wide to the left. 

Deep into second-half stoppage time, Atlanta United’s persistence and high press paid off. Substitute Jamal Thiaré, after taking a sip from his water bottle behind the goal, lurked behind the unaware goalkeeper, who rolled the ball out gently to restart the game. Thiare then seized the opportunity by poking a right-footed shot from outside the box to make it 2-1 with what was the last kick of the game. 

Atlanta United player ratings (3-4-1-2)  

GK: Brad Guzan - 6/10 - Came up with three crucial saves, and his years of experience benefitted him and the team. 

CB: Stian Gregersen - 7/10 - Rock solid in defense and tidy in possession at most minuscule. However, he picked up a yellow card because he was caught out and had to pull the attacker down with a rash tackle.  

CB: Derrick Williams - 8/10 - Went to great lengths to ensure his clean sheet remained intact with a series of excellent tackles and blocks. He was unlucky not to have his name on the score sheet. 

CB: Noah Cobb - 7/10 - Playing alongside Williams Cobb’s game, confidence has grown exponentially.  

LM: Caleb Wiley7/10 - A player on Chelsea's radar, Wiley has repeatedly demonstrated why several clubs in Europe are considering him. Though Bernardeschi cooked him, he was outstanding for the 90.  

CM: Tristan Muyumba - 6/10 - Got locked in and came up with the odd lengthy pass. 

CM: Ajani Fortune - 6/10 - Slightly sloppier than usual in midfield in the first half when Atlanta was loose in transition. 

RW: Brook Lennon - 7/10 - Carried the ball at great length but was often caught for keeping hold of it for too long. 

AM: Thiago Almeda - 8/10 - Popped up in space-linking play, sustained the pressure carrying the team on his back, impacting the game, and came up trumps with the opening goal. 

LW: Daniel Rios - 8/10 - Drifted inside to allow Thiago the space to operate on the wing. With little to do for stretches of the game but broke free to supply Thiago with the opening goal. 

CF: Xande Silva - 7/10 - did not influence the game as the fans would have wanted 


SUB: Bartosz Slisz (64' for Ajani) - 6/10 

SUB: Jamal Thiare (64' for Rios) - 8/10 

SUB: Ronald Hernandez (80' for Gregersen) - 6/10 

SUB: Tyler Wolff (80' for Silva) - N/A 


Rob Valentino – 8/10 - Atlanta played with real intensity, and the substitution impacted the game and clinched the winner.