Toronto FC and Atlanta United's playoff hopes become dimmer with each passing week, making Saturday's contest at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium a must-win for both sides.
After a five-match unbeaten run, Toronto FC has sputtered, winning one of its last four and taking four points from 12. As a result, Bob Bradley's side finds themselves in a precarious spot, in 10th place, five points adrift of the final playoff spot with just four remaining matches.
Atlanta United isn't any better off, as Gonzalo Pineda's side has won one of its last six and are in 11th place, a point behind Toronto FC. If Atlanta loses on Saturday, it will mark the team's first three-game losing streak since October 2020.
Continue reading to see who has the edge in our free MLS betting picks for Atlanta United vs. Toronto FC.
Atlanta United vs Toronto FC best odds
Atlanta United vs Toronto FC picks and predictions
Desperation permeates the air, as neither team can afford to drop points if they are to make one final postseason push. Bewilderingly, Toronto is enjoying more recent success on the road than at BMO Centre. They won their last game, a 2-0 triumph in Charlotte, and have taken all three points in two of their previous road encounters.
However, those are their only two wins in 14 away from BMO Centre. Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne scored in the 4-3 home loss to Montreal on Sept. 4, marking the fourth time the Italians scored in the same game since their debuts on July 23. The dynamic duo should be salivating at the prospect of playing the Eastern Conference's fourth-most porous defense.
Atlanta United has conceded 48 goals in 29 matches. Only three Eastern Conference teams have conceded more, including Toronto FC, who've allowed 53. The Five Stripes conceded 14 goals in six previous outings and have their third-string goalkeeper minding the net. Rocco Rios Novo has won four of 16 matches since being forced into action, allowing 29 goals.
While Atlanta has taken just five from 18 points since Aug. 13, Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers a safe haven. Pineda's side has the Eastern Conference's fourth-best home record, losing only three of 14 contests.
Recently, Atlanta has won two of three on their patch. The last team to keep a clean sheet in Atlanta was Austin FC on July 9. That's a run of five matches, scoring at least one in each home contest.
Toronto's defense is the second-worst in the conference, so expect Atlanta to bag at least one. However, Atlanta's top goalscorer Josef Martinez is unavailable after an undisclosed altercation with Pineda. He has eight goals in 22 matches, and his absence will significantly hamper Atlanta's ability to score in bunches.
Defender Miles Robinson was also arrested for a misdemeanor after refusing to pay for a shot in an Atlanta bar, adding to Atlanta's off-field distractions.
As a result, the Five Stripes are ripe for the picking, and Toronto must take advantage of the rare opportunity to beat Pineda’s side on their patch and gain separation.
My best bet: Toronto FC to win and both teams to score (+475 at BetMGM)
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Atlanta United vs Toronto FC betting preview
Toronto FC hasn't taken the opportunity to make up ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Against a particularly vulnerable Atlanta side, this match represents Toronto's last chance to make a last-gasp claim on a playoff spot.
Atlanta is plagued by injury concerns and off-field distractions, including the controversy surrounding ace striker Martinez. In addition, Toronto's recent turnaround in enemy environments bodes well for this encounter. Bradley will set his team up to hit Atlanta on the counter, which should provide Insigne and Bernardeschi a few golden opportunities.
Toronto FC has no injury concerns of consequence and should play loose and free, knowing a playoff berth (no matter the result) is unlikely.
This match leans toward the Over. Six of Toronto's seven recent games have resulted in that direction, with Toronto scoring at least two in all but one contest.
Atlanta's previous seven games all resulted in the Over, while Pineda's side has conceded at least two goals in six straight.
Five of Atlanta's last six home games saw three or more goals, and 11 of their 14 encounters at Mercedes-Benz Stadium resulted in the Over.
Atlanta United vs Toronto FC game info
• Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
• Date: Saturday, September 10, 2022
• Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
• TV: TSN
Atlanta United vs Toronto FC key injuries
Atlanta United: Osvaldo Alonso M (Out), Emerson Hyndman M (Out), Miles Robinson D (Out), Bradley Guzan GK (Out), Dylan Castanheira GK (Out), Josef Martinez F (Out).
Toronto FC: Noble Okello M (Doubtful), Mark-Anthony Kaye M (Doubtful), Quentin Westberg GK (Doubtful).
Atlanta United vs Toronto FC weather
The temperature will be about 72 Fahrenheit for the late kickoff but will remain steady. Winds will be light at about 6 mph, and humidity is expected to be sky-high, topping 90%, making for a rather muggy encounter. Chances of precipitation are fairly significant at about 50%.