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Atlanta United closes two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with CF Montreal

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A lot happened in this one. No win, though.

SOCCER: AUG 04 MLS - Atlanta United FC at CF Montreal Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Atlanta United’s winless streak extended to 12 games after securing a 2-2 draw with CF Montreal after falling behind by two goals. Josef Martinez scored a tidy finish and Marcelino Moreno scored a penalty kick late in the second half to salvage an away point for Atlanta.

Some familiar names returned to Atlanta since the team’s last game against Orlando City.. Brad Guzan, George Bello and MLS All-Star Miles Robinson returned from the USMNT’s Gold Cup victory over Mexico while Ezequiel Barco returned from the Olympics with Argentina.

Robinson played every minute of the United States’ Gold Cup win, so he’s probably in Atlanta getting some well deserved rest. Barco, Bello and Guzan all walked back into the starting lineup. Barco and Bello’s inclusion were expected, but Guzan replaced Alec Kann, Atlanta United’s backup keeper who made a strong case for the starting position himself while Guzan was on Gold Cup duty.

The Highlights

In the 10th minute, Marcelino Moreno and Josef Martinez combined in Montreal’s penalty area to carve out a pretty good chance, but Pantemis’ kick save kept it at 0-0. The xG (.45) on this shot attempt was quite high, and accounted for the majority of Atlanta’s .6 xG in the first half.

Five minutes later, George Bello failed to convert another move that involved Josef, Moreno and Barco in the buildup.

Besides those and a couple of other moments, it was a relatively quiet first half. Then the second half came around, and the game exploded. Mason Toye finished off Joaquín Torres’ defense-splitting through ball to open the scoring in the 52nd minute.

Ten minutes later, Montreal got its second of the match after miscommunication among Atlanta United players led to Montreal’s Rudy Camacho getting a wide open chance in Atlanta’s penalty area.

This was a seriously shocking moment. The players just... didn’t see the completely open man.

“We need to have the belief. We need to have the belief of going in and defending, but also going forward and scoring goals,” Brad Guzan said. “When you concede goals like we did today, especially the second one ... you can’t let that happen in these games.”

If Atlanta’s defensive posture on that set piece shocked you, the following clip might be even more shocking.

That’s right. Barco picked up the ball and carried it through the midfield, progressing an attacking move in a positive and direct way. Then Josef pulled out a classic finish, and Atlanta was back on its way.

In the 73rd minute, the spirit of MLS came alive and haunted this game. Camacho fouled Josef in Montreal’s penalty area, earning himself a red card and giving Atlanta United a golden opportunity to equalize. Marcelino Moreno made no mistake and scored the equalizer in the 76th minute.

Josef and Victor Wanyama (yes, that Victor Wayama) got into somewhat of a scrap and were sent off late in the second half. There were hands involved, and center referee sent off both players after consulting with VAR and looking at an on field replay in the 82nd.

Here’s the official MLSVAR explanation for those red cards.

Santiago Sosa could have been the hero on the night by scoring a late winner in the 90’+6 minute, but his effort went flying over the bar. In the end, both teams split the points.

Some parting thoughts

  • Heading into this match, I was of the camp this game was a must-not-lose. Those types of a games don’t come around often in the MLS regular season, but the playoff picture heading into the game made it so. Montreal, in 7th in the Eastern Conference with 22 points occupied the last playoff spot in the East. Had Montreal beaten Atlanta United Wednesday night, there would have been considerable distance in the standings between Atlanta and the last playoff spot. Atlanta United did well to dig itself out of the hole from two goals down. The immediate response and desire to get a goal was refreshing to see. So, Atlanta didn’t lose, but...
  • At the end of the day, this Atlanta United team is still winless in 12 matches. It’s the lowest amount of wins in MLS this season, and the last time Atlanta won a game of soccer was against Montreal at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in May. Marcelino Moreno scored a 90’+4 minute winner in that game. Feel old yet? At this point, all the team needs to do is win. It sounds ridiculous, but they simply have to outscore an opponent. That’s all it comes down to.
  • I could see Josef’s red card and suspension be rescinded if the club appeals it.

Atlanta United’s next matchup is this Saturday comes against the Columbus Crew this Saturday at Lower.com Field