Three Takeaways: Sean Johnson Helped TFC Get A Road Point

MLS: Toronto FC at Atlanta United FC as Sean Johnson Made One of His Fives Saves at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

ANALYSIS – Sean Johnson, the goalkeeper of Toronto FC, played a big role in TFC securing their first point in the 2023 MLS season. Atlanta United FC definitely had the better-scoring chances in the game and was the better team, but maybe on another day, Atlanta might have won the game.

Toronto FC Secured Road Point Thanks to Sean Johnson

Three Keys to the Game

Sean Johnson Was the Best Player of the Game

Sean Johnson showed everyone why Toronto FC acquired him in the off-season. The 2021 MLS Finals MVP was forced to make five saves, with some of them being really spectacular.

Johnson was on top form for TFC. These were some of the big saves that he made:

  • A diving save from a Juan José Purata header in the 85-minute.
  • Johnston parried Matheus Rossetto’s shot in the 41-minute.

He was by far the best player in the game. TFC relied on him one too many times. In fact, Johnson deserved to get a clean sheet on Saturday’s game as the goal scored by Atlanta was a bit fortunate.

READ MORE: 2023 Toronto FC Season: Cautious Optimism

Atlanta United FC Did Not Take Advantage of Their Scoring Chances

Atlanta United FC had a lot of chances to score. There were some prime examples of this.

  • Miles Robinson was unmarked as Rossetto crossed the ball to him inside the box, but was unable to convert.
  • Franco Ibarro header from the centre of the box in the 77-minute missed the target.

Atlanta looked like they controlled most of the game. They controlled the tempo and Argentinian player, Almada unlocked TFC’s defence one or two times. There were also some great individual defensive plays by TFC, but still, there were some clear-scoring opportunities for Atlanta. The only goal was a fortunate one by Rossetto, but if you look at the run of play, Atlanta deserved a lucky bounce.

Atlanta United FC Did Not Give Toronto FC Many Scoring Chances

Atlanta made sure that TFC did not have many scoring chances for most of the game. Besides the start of the second half, they really did not generate many scoring opportunities. Brandon Servina had a chance in the first half, but he missed the target.

Additionally, sometimes your best defence is your offence. Atlanta was so much in Toronto’s zone, especially in the first half, that it allowed the defence to rest. Atlanta had approximately 70 per cent of the possession in the first half and hardly looked troubled with the notable exception being the start of the second half.

Other Factors

Toronto FC’s defence made some spectacular and important defensive plays. Matt Hedges made one to start the game and Ayo Akinola made a fantastic stretch to put the ball out of bounds and not give a scoring opportunity to Atlanta.

Reversely, Toronto gave up the ball a few times in the game and it led to scoring opportunities. It is fortunate for TFC that Atlanta did not make the most of those opportunities.

Also, the play of Federico Bernardeschi and Richie Laryea was notable. Bernardeschi showed his ability to create scoring chances for TFC. Also, once again, Laryea showcased his speed, distracting the Atlanta defender and helping Bernardeschi score a goal. He also drew a yellow card in the second half.

The other thing is the offside call to waive off the goal for Giorgos Giakoumakis. There was nothing wrong with Giakoumakis’s goal as it looked onside. However, in the play just before where Robinson received the ball and hit the post, he looked slightly offside and the goal was called off. It was the right call, but TFC was very fortunate as it was only a matter of inches.

Games Coming Up For Both Teams

This is what goalkeeper, Johnson, said about the game on Saturday according to Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun:

“Hard fought match. I think everybody put everything into the game. Coming away with a point is a big win on the road,” said Johnson after the game. “We’re heading in the right direction.”

Indeed, it is important to remember that Toronto has not played a home game yet. That is why the game next Saturday will be a special one for TFC fans as that will be the first home game of 2023. Also, even with some flaws, TFC’s defence did play very hard and it did play a factor in Toronto earning their first point of 2023. It is also a good result to earn after TFC’s heartbreaking loss to D.C. United.

Toronto FC will host their first MLS season game this year as they host Trillium Cup rivals, Columbus Crew SC, at BMO Field on March 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET. They will then host Inter Miami CF on March 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

This is while Atlanta United FC will travel to face Charlotte FC at the Bank of America Stadium on March 11 at 12:00 p.m. ET. They will then host the Portland Timbers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on March 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET. All four games will be shown live on Apple TV and the Charlotte vs. Atlanta game will be televised nationally in Canada on TSN5.


Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports on March 4, 2023, of Sean Johnson’s Headshot.


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