For a team that limped into the playoffs, the Union appear energized by the prospect of playing a new season. They are also happy that the old one is finished.

For the second time in their seven-year history, the Union will be in the Major League Soccer playoffs, and in their opinion the best thing is that the slate is wiped clean.

The Union (11-14-9) earned the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot and will visit No. 3 seed Toronto FC (14-9-11) in the one-game knockout round Wednesday night.

At one point, the Union were in the position to contend for a first-round bye or at least a home game in the knockout round, but that was before they ended the season on an 0-5-2 slide and dropped their final three games.

"We need to remember that we are the same team that did what we have done and that is the reason why we were able to make the playoffs," said keeper Andre Blake, an all-star this season and one of the main reasons the Union have returned to the postseason for the first time since 2011.

The Union's players and coach Jim Curtin said they could draw positives from their most recent visit to Toronto, a 1-1 draw on Sept. 24.

Toronto was without sidelined forward Sebastian Giovinco, last season's league MVP and a game-changer. He was third in MLS with 17 goals and second with 15 assists in 28 games. Giovinco will be back and the Union will have their hands full.

Still, in their last meeting, the Union held a 1-0 lead until Toronto earned the equalizer in the 70th minute on a goal by Justin Morrow.

"Toronto away is tough, but we take a lot of positives out of the last game," said Alejandro Bedoya, the U.S. national team midfielder who scored his first Union goal in that game on an outstanding chip. "We were up 1-0 and let them back in the game."

The Union kept applying the pressure.

"We had several chances to put the game away," Bedoya said. "We have to convert more of the chances."

The Union did not have midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta for the last Toronto game. He might not be as dangerous as Giovinco, but the three-time Swiss World Cup selection is a major part of the Union attack.

Barnetta is hoping to prolong his career with the Union after announcing last month that he will return to play in Switzerland next year.

With Toronto being the favorite, Curtin believes the pressure is on the home team. He'll attempt to use any psychological advantage.

"I say the pressure is on them," Curtin said.

mnarducci@phillynews.com