Atlanta United suffered from a mostly toothless attack, flawed decision making and, at times, lack of discipline tonight against Sporting Kansas City. But it took a very late goal by former SKC veteran Jacob Peterson in the first of four minutes of stoppage time to help the Five Stripes pull level at 1-1 with Sporting and deny them all three points at home. In the end, it may not have been a particularly well-earned result, but it will go down as a result nonetheless as Atlanta extend their unbeaten streak to six matches (4-0-2) and have now taken seven out of a possible nine points in their last three away from home.
Atlanta couldn’t really do a ton with the trademark KC defense early on as they struggled to maintain possession and push the attack forward, but they appeared to adjust a little as the match went on by employing a high press up the field in an attempt to create chances near the net. Sporting grabbed an early chance in the 4th minute as Daniel Salloi found himself alone in the box after an Atlanta turnover, but his decision to pass instead of shoot saw the chance go away. A second chance in the 8th minute, off a free kick, was headed by a Sporting player but out of play as Atlanta avoided going down 1-0 once more.
Atlanta showed some signs of life starting with their first legitimate opportunity in the 26th. Anton Walkes crossed it in the area to Tito Villalba, but the Argentinian could manage just a weak flicked on header off target and the attack fizzled out. In the 28th minute, Miguel Almiron won a free kick just in from of the box, but shot it right into the wall as the match remained scoreless. SKC looked to draw first blood again in the 33rd as Latif Blessing played one from out wide toward the middle to a running Roger Espinoza, but the resulting shot went right to Guzan. In the 36th, Julian Gressel nearly put Atlanta on the board with a speculative attempt from distance that just missed wide of the net.
Atlanta saw the first best chance out of the half courtesy of Jeff Larentowicz, but his free kick was deflected by Tim Melia in the 49th as the match remained goalless. But it was Sporting on the board first thanks to a (controversial) penalty given in the 58th minute, which Benny Feilhaber converted against his U.S. national teammate to make it a 1-0 contest. That slowed Atlanta’s roll until a flurry of empty chances in the 75th minute after Chris McCann and Jacob Peterson entered the match - meanwhile, Sporting had a couple of opportunities of their own to ice the game away and deny Atlanta a chance to salvage a point.
Fortunately for Atlanta, that didn’t happen. And it was the former Sporting Kansas City man Peterson - who else! - who got Atlanta back on terms in the early stages of stoppage time.
That was how the match would end as Atlanta pulled level with the New York Red Bulls in points with 35 (RBNY hold the tiebreaker with 11 wins to Atlanta’s 10). For Atlanta, tonight is their final match before another lengthy 17-day break due to matches previously set to be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium that were pushed back thanks to construction issues. They don’t play again until August 23 at wooden spoon candidate DC United, a team that’s already beaten them twice this season.