Pablo Piatti scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute, as Toronto FC defeated Atlanta United 1-0 in Week 19 at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Conn.
The goal came off a cross from Toronto right back Richie Laryea and Piatti redirected the ball with his head past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan and inside the far post. The result allowed Toronto to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches (7W-0L-2D) and maintain the best record in MLS (12W-2L-5D).
Injuries to a few key TFC players—including Ayo Akinola and Chris Mavinga—meant that Greg Vanney was forced into several changes to the group that started in midweek. Those injury concerns continued against Atlanta as Jonathan Osorio was forced off, giving way to Michael Bradley in the 20th minute. It was the first appearance for the U.S. international since September 1 against the Montreal Impact.
Atlanta went toe-to-toe against Toronto with an inspired Jurgen Damm leading the way on the right wing, but chances were few in an evenly matched first half. Toronto came close on a corner kick routine in the 39th, but a great header by Omar Gonzalez was stopped by Atlanta’s Guzan. A minute later Piatti’s shot was blocked, with his second attempt knocked away by Guzan.
At halftime, Atlanta interim manager Stephen Glass opted to bring in star players Ezequiel Barco (first match since Sept. 12) and new Designated Player Marcelino Moreno, and despite somewhat of a spark, the Five Stripes were ultimately unable to put together the final product. They did deliver one of the best scoring chances in the 68th as Cubo Torres’s header on a perfect ball served in by Brooks Lennon saw Quentin Westberg come up with a beautiful save.
And just when it seemed like the match was destined to be a 0-0 draw, Toronto found the stroke of magic from their Designated Player, who hit the target on a classy finish.