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Josef Martinez misses crucial penalty kick in loss to Toronto

Atlanta United had a prime opportunity to take an early 2-0 lead against Toronto, but Martinez missed a significant penalty kick in 10th minute.

ATLANTA — Atlanta United falls short 2-1 to Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Final, ending their chances to repeat as MLS Cup Champions.

Nick DeLeon scored the deciding goal in the 78th minute for Toronto.

"I thought we had numbers behind the ball," Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. "For a split second, everyone was thinking was he going to pass the ball or playing to a runner, but he just turns and shoots, and it was a great shot."

Julian Grissel scored Atlanta's only goal in the 4th minute, and United had an opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 lead, but Josef Martinez's penalty kick in the 10th minute was blocked.

Nicolas Benezet scored Toronto's first goal in the 14th minute.

Toronto's two goals were the first scores goalkeeper Brian Guzan allowed this postseason.

Although Atlanta United won the Campeones Cup and the U.S. Cup, winning the MLS Cup was the ultimate goal.

"That's irrelevant tonight," Guzan said of the two cups the team won this season. "It's a disappointing feeling. It's a sense of anger, disappointment, frustration and a lot of emotions. As I said, you put a lot into a game like tonight and a lot into the season, and to come up short the way we did with what was at stake is disappointing."

Atlanta United will now be faced with a tougher challenge next year: replacing veteran defender Michael Parkhurst who announced his retirement after the team's last match.


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