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Atlanta United draws with NCYFC, remains in playoff contention

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Just when Atlanta thought the win was in the bag, NYCFC scores a 90th minute free kick. Cool.

MLS: New York City FC at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United and NYCFC played to a 1-1 draw in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday, a rather sizable bump in the road for an Atlanta United team that is scrapping for desperately needed points in the Eastern Conference. A goal from Marcelino Moreno opened the scoring in the first half, but a 90th minute free kick effort from NYCFC’s Gudmundur Thórarinsson found its way into the top corner and took two points off Atlanta United in the dying minutes of the match.

With Ezequiel Barco suspended and Josef Martinez recently dealing with hamstring and knee injury issues, neither were available to start (or in Barco’s case, play at all). Gonzalo Pineda opted to start Cubo Torres while Josef’s started the match on the bench.

NYCFC came out of the gates on top of Atlanta United in the opening minutes and caused Atlanta some issues. There were a couple moments — like Brooks Lennon being the last man back and saving Atlanta’s tail, or that time a NYCFC player was allowed to step into space and rip a shot — that made it seem like Atlanta would be in for a long night. Then the Five Stripes turned it around.

In the 17th minute, Luiz Araújo won the ball back in the midfield, carried the ball forward into the final third, and slipped Marcelino Moreno in for a one-time, left footed finish to open the scoring.

Atlanta continued to pepper NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson throughout the first half. Araújo forced Johnson into an outstretched save. Moreno caused issues for NYCFC on multiple occasions. Those chances continued to pop up for Atlanta in the second half. In this one, Cubo Torres set George Bello up for a shot inside the NYCFC penalty area that flew off the crossbar in the 55th minute.

There were a handful of other chance and moments, but I’m just going to fast forward to the Bad Ending.

And that’s how the game ended.

Results around the league

Heading into tonight’s slate of MLS matches, there were a couple of games that I said Atlanta United fans should keep an eye on.

The Revs beat DC 3-2, Orlando and Montreal drew 1-1, and Minnesota defeated Philadelphia 3-2. Nashville dropping points to Columbus would be helpful as well, but the only realistic result to come out of that game is a draw. Pretty much everything went Atlanta’s way in the Eastern Conference standings, which will help soften the blow of tonight’s draw. However, it will leave Atlanta United wishing it had seen out the victory.

The post match press conference was pretty bleak. The main message to come from Pineda is that Atlanta United had the chances to finish off the game, but a lack of clinical finishing cost his team.

“After the first wave…first five or ten minutes, we were better,” Pineda said. “What frustrates me is that we have the chances to put that game away, just score the second one. In those moments where we are dominating the game, we have to score the goals.”

That essentially sums it all up.

Atlanta United now has a week long break until Inter Miami comes to the Benz. There are four games left in the regular season, and Atlanta could finish on either side of playoff line. So yeah. See you then.