Josef Martinez scored twice but a Toronto goal in stoppage time of the first half and stoppage time of the second sent Atlanta United home with one point and one of the season’s most disappointing results.
The first half was highlighted by missed opportunities from Atlanta and capitalization from Toronto.
Almiron and Martinez both had one on one opportunities with the keeper but failed to find the net. Meanwhile Atlanta’s back three with help from Eric Remedi contained the TFC attack for most of the half. But in the first minute of stoppage time, an Atlanta turnover and a couple of quick passes from Toronto led to an open and easy finish for Sebastian Giovinco in the box. Toronto’s only shot of the half resulted in a 1-0 lead going into the locker room.
Atlanta only needed eight minutes out of the break to recover.
A clever one-two, spearheaded by Remedi, created an opportunity for Martinez in front of goal. Alexander Bono brought down Martinez, and the league’s leading scorer gladly accepted an opportunity to build on his golden boot race lead.
Martinez, predictably, had another goal in him.
In the 67th minute, a Tito Villalba cross found Josef in the box for a header. Yes I did copy and paste that.
Martinez now has 26 goals on the year. Nine of those have been headed. With 10 games left in the season, Martinez sits two goals away from owning the MLS record for goals in a season.
But two goals from Martinez wouldn’t be enough.
Toronto FC found a hole in the Atlanta United defense in the early moments of stoppage time. Giovinco charged forward with plenty of space, found Osorio in behind the back line and Osorio found Tosaint Rickets for a cluttered tap in to make it 2-2.
”We can’t allow that to happen at the end of the game. Once their in behind us we’re facing our own goalie. It’s very disappointing. We give up two goals at the worst time of each half. It’s disappointing because outside of those two moments we played a fantastic game tonight,” captain Michael Parkhurst said. “It’s just a lack of concentration, a lack of details. We have to be better in critical moments. A minute left in first half, stoppage time in the second, these are moments we have to be aware and cognizant of the minute and the moment. It’s just little things. But little things are big on the score sheet and they’re big on the game.”
Each of the three matches between Atlanta and Toronto have ended 2-2. For the second visit in a row, Toronto has bagged a late goal to spoil what could have been a huge win for Atlanta.
It’s not the only time Atlanta has had a big win spoiled this year. A draw with New England and a 3-2 loss to Dallas each get filed under late-game mishaps for this Atlanta United team. Manager Tata Martino believes it might be time to start taking more and more pages out of opposing team’s playbooks.
”What some other teams do, especially when they come here, when they have a favorable result from them they slow the game down. They have the delays and doing all these things.They have an understanding and they know how to slow a game down. That’s part of why we’ve lost seven points,” Martino said through a translator. “By having a throw in you have a delay. A sub, a delay. A goal kick a delay. That’s things the other teams do and they’re not punished for it. So in the second half when we’re up after 80 minutes, then we see that they’re not being punished for it then it’s something we should do to.”
Similar to the Dallas loss, Martino made late subs of Romario Williams and Miles Robinson. While Martino said he believed the subs were the correct ones, he conceded that an attitude adjustment may be needed.
”Everyone on the bench is qualified and they’re capable to play when their number is called. It’s wishful thinking to say that you can choose the perfect moment for every player to come in. But they need to be like rabid dogs, foaming at the mouth when they come in and provide that kind of energy. Not only to attack but to defend and maybe we don’t have enough of that,” he said.
In all Atlanta outshot Toronto 22-5. Toronto’s only two shots on targets resulted in goals. Two brief moments and two dropped points for Atlanta. Now the team has to sit with the result for 15 days. The Five Stripes return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 19 as they welcome Columbus. Until then, I’m going to go drink or walk it off or.....something. That one hurt.