Josef Martinez’s late penalty cancelled out Raul Ruidiaz’s 6th minute header to rescue a point for Atlanta United at Lumen Field on Sunday. The result ended the Sounders’ four-game win streak and moves Atlanta into fifth in the Eastern Conference.
The Seattle Sounders took the lead early in the game off a corner kick that was cheaply given away by an errant pass and recovery from George Bello. On the ensuing corner, Raul Ruidiaz then rode Brooks Lennon’s defensive pressure and left Brad Guzan flat footed in the 6th minute.
With five minutes of regular time to play, Miles Robinson played Brooks Lennon into the penalty area to win a late penalty.
Run is fantastic, but the weight on this pass, man... pic.twitter.com/IPrlFsgFDI— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) May 23, 2021
There was never any doubt when Josef stepped up, and his powerful shot rescued a point for the Five Stripes.
“He’s as clutch as they come when it comes to stepping to the spot,” Guzan said. “It’s another game for him where he gains some confidence, obviously scoring goals, that’s what he does. For him to get the goal like that, it’s certainly going to help him going forward.”
For the opening 15-20 minutes, the Sounders pressed Atlanta’s backline and forced the Five Stripes into their own half. For the most part, Atlanta could play the ball out of the back and through the pressure. Below is the first real passage of play that showed Atlanta’s midfield/attack was starting to wake up.
Ladies and gentleman, Santiago Sosa is a true joy. pic.twitter.com/xN1lSoJbbf— Joseph Lowery (@joeclowery) May 23, 2021
20 minutes later, Sounders defender Nouhou deleted Atlanta’s best opportunity of the match at that point. The Five Stripes worked the ball down the field’s left side and Moreno sent in a grounded cross to Josef Martinez, but Nouhou poked it away at the last moment to prevent Josef from taking a golden opportunity in the penalty area.
With Ezequiel Barco injured and out of the squad, Atlanta United has even less creativity on the field than it usually does. A constant theme in this match was Josef dropping deep to pick up the ball and there were times when the forward looked like a midfielder. In the end, he put the penalty away, but Atlanta United is still lacking creativity in the final third to create substantial goal scoring chances.
A point away to Seattle is a great result for Atlanta United - and I'm not trying to take that away from them - but man, they're still struggling to turn possession into chances.— Joseph Lowery (@joeclowery) May 23, 2021
They only created 0.35 non-penalty xG with 63% possession in this game.
Josef’s got a point here. There were a grand total of four shots on target which were evenly split between the two teams. Atlanta can take some solace in the fact they limited Seattle’s chances and eventually got a goal, but some of that comes down to Seattle’s approach to the match.
“If we don’t create a lot of chances, you don’t have a possibility to win a game” Josef said. “You can have the ball all game... but if you don't create chances, you don’t win. In soccer you win with goals, not with the possession. We’re happy, it’s not easy to get a point away against an amazing team, so we have to keep working and see what happens.”
Heinze’s squad will return to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday to host Eastern Conference rivals Nashville SC with the advertised kickoff scheduled for 3:30.