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Recap: Atlanta United can’t end Timbers’ unbeaten run, draw 1-1

A tough test for Atlanta ends honors even.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United surrendered a first-half set-piece goal but a Julian Gressel equalizer earned the Five Stripes a point against the Portland Timbers on Sunday evening in a 1-1 home draw.

Atlanta controlled the ball from the outset. The Five Stripes were able to find a few chances, the best being a header from Franco Escobar feet outside the six-yard-box saved by keeper Jeff Attinella. As Atlanta pushed forward, the Timbers began to find space on the break. It eventually payed off after a yellow-card-earning foul from Escobar set up a Portland free kick. Samuel Armenteros met the initial ball. Larrys Mabiala finished the chance.

Atlanta out-possessed Portland 72-28 and outshot the Timbers 9-6. The half ended with Portland up 1-0.

The Five Stripes continued to bang their heads against a brick wall at the beginning of the second half. Atlanta squandered multiple opportunities, including an open shot on goal that Josef skied. Fortunately, Gressel broke through the wall in the 56th minute.

While the goal may have been somewhat of surprise to the viewing audience, Gressel had already called his shot well in advance.

Both teams created huge chances the rest of the way but failed to find the net. Despite Atlanta outshooting Portland 21-12 and outcrossing the Timbers 28-4, the game ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw.

“It was a crazy game,” Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez said. “We did everything enough tactically to get the win I thought. It felt like we had 80% possession. They had three or four counter-attacks. For us the ball just wouldn’t go in.”

The lack of final product despite numerous chances continues to be a trend for the Five Stripes. Understandably, it can be frustrating to watch. But the players and coaches (and this blogger) continue to ask for patience.

“Obviously, we deserved more goal than we got today. Sometimes a team will go through these kinds of stretches. We’re doing great creating chances. One day they’ll go back in,” Gressel said. “It’s a problem if you don’t create chances. If you create chances the goals will come. It’s just a matter of finding a final pass and not losing concentration in the box.”

Atlanta stays on top of the league but continues a rough stretch of results at home. Atlanta has won one in their last five games in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They’ll look to improve on that record on Saturday as a hapless Orlando City team comes to Atlanta on a seven-game losing streak.