Atlanta United drew 2-2 with familiar foe Philadelphia Union at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday to close out the final game of MLS Week 8 action. A pair of late Union goals, one of which was a world class strike in second half stoppage time, cancelled out the earlier Union own goal and Anton Walkes header. The draw keeps Atlanta in the lower end of the table in ninth place, while the Union remain near the top in third place.
For the second consecutive game, though three weeks apart, Atlanta United shipped two late goals and failed to walk away with all three points. Atlanta created some decent chances throughout the first half, which included moments like Cubo Torres getting smacked in the face by a cross from Brooks Lennon (scenes). Guzan also had to make a handful of saves at the other end to keep Atlanta in the match.
Around the 15th minute, Torress found the ball at his feet while Atlanta broke forward. The striker had three runners to his left but instead attempted to play a hopeful arial through ball to a teammate on his right side. The attack broke down, and Atlanta’s goalkeeper had to respond at the other end.
After losing possession in Atlanta’s attacking third, the Union forced Guzan to make an excellent close-range save in the 17th minute.
In the 33rd minute, Cubo Torres went down in the Philadelphia Union penalty area and cries for a penalty from players and fans alike bellowed around the stadium. To Atlanta’s chagrin, center referee Ted Unkel deemed it a no call and in that same passage of play, the Union hit Atlanta on the break and nearly scored, but Robinson intervened at the last second to keep the scoreline even.
Guzan made another save after the Union’s Kascper Pryzbylko took a strike from the the top of Atlanta’s penalty area in the 42nd minute. By that point, the Union accrued 1.0 xG while Atlanta accrued 0.2 xG.
Then the second half rolled around, and so did the goals. Atlanta’s breakthrough came in the 58th minute after Kacper Przybylkomade scored an own goal off of an Atlanta corner kick.
In the 82nd minute, Lennon crossed the ball to assist Anton Walkes and double Atlanta's lead.
Literally a minute later, Corey Burke got one back for the Union to put the pressure on the Five Stripes in the closing stages of the game.
The spirit of the Nashville result creeped into my mind after that goal, and it seemingly creeped back onto the field. Jakob Glesnes then stepped up and smacked one in from the ozone layer to tie the game up in stoppage time.
According to the MLS website, that shot had 2.85% of going in. Atlanta just got Nick de Leon’d.
“I thought their second goal was...some people can call it a lucky shot, but we didn’t close him out and put pressure on him,” Lennon said.
Some final thoughts
- Four late goals conceded across two games to drop four points isn’t ideal. Earlier this season, Atlanta couldn’t score or create chances for anything. Now, the team is slowly starting to create those opportunities and score some goals, but the team is conceding goals in moments that requires them to see out the match. When a player rips a shot like Glesnes did, it’s always going to be difficult to stop it, but... yeah. Just look at the above tweet.
- DP centerback Alan Franco entered the fray in the 70th minute and joined Robinson and Anton Walkes in the three-man back line. Subsequently, we saw Santiago Sosa move into the midfield to play as more of a traditional midfielder. With Hyndman out for the season with an ACL injury, this might be a more common setup for Atlanta United going forward in the season.
- Jackson Conway made his MLS debut in the 90th minute. Cool to see the kids get some minutes.
Atlanta United will travel to Red Bull Arena to face off against New York City FC on Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m and follow up with a home game against the New York Red Bulls at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Sunday at 3:30.
Atlanta United next five matches:— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) June 20, 2021
at NYCFC (at Red Bull)