Breathe, I tell you.
Atlanta United rescued a point after drawing 3-3 with CF Montreal on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Despite not picking up any points prior to this game and coming off a Concacaf Champions League loss three days ago with the almost exact same starting lineup as this match, Montreal almost walked out of the building with their first three points in Major League Soccer play this season. In the end, it was only one point for the Canadian visitors.
Gonzalo Pineda rolled out a similar lineup to last week’s win over Charlotte FC, but with one change. Amar Sejdic returned to the bench as Marcelino Moreno returned to the lineup to make his first start of the 2022 season. Moreno went 64 minutes before being subbed off by Dom Dwyer.
#ATLUTD Starting XI vs @CFMontreal pic.twitter.com/Rt4PIwr9az— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 19, 2022
Atlanta United started the match against the Canadian side on top. Josef Martinez (who else?) converted a shot into a goal in the 6th minute after Atlanta United forced a turnover in Montreal’s defensive third, which is something we’ve seen Atlanta United already do a few times this season.
.@JosefMartinez17 banger! pic.twitter.com/7XB46r7LMs— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 19, 2022
This is where it all started to go wrong for the Five Stripes on Saturday. An errant pass fro-. You know what? Just watch for yourself. Just watch. It’s the moment the Fire Nation attacked and everything changed.
I am at a loss for words. Even the Quakes wouldn't do this. pic.twitter.com/aE8f1tGCRi— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) March 19, 2022
SO yeah. It got worse.
Beautiful set up by @cfmontreal.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 19, 2022
Ismaël Koné on the dime from Lassi Lappalainen to put @cfmontreal ahead. pic.twitter.com/yUgr2aJ5yO
Then it got worse again.
.@QuiotoSamir from the spot.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 19, 2022
3 unanswered goals from @cfmontreal. pic.twitter.com/ZZfAsTT0pa
By halftime, Atlanta United was floundering and needed to change something. Pineda held that same sentiment and made a triple substitution. Thiago Almada, George Campbell and Jake Mulraney came on to replace Tyler Wolff, Alan Franco and Ronald Hernandez respectively. Pineda confirmed post-game that Alan Franco felt something in his leg into minutes leading to halftime, which is why he was subbed off.
Dom Dwyer made his substitute appearance in the 64th minute. He hit the showers in the 67th minute after earning a red card. That was yet another thing that made the game worse for Atlanta.
Almada, who was rather anonymous in his substitute appearance against Charlotte FC on Sunday, is anonymous no longer. The young Argentine showed the league why he’s such a big talent and provided the second goal to initiate Atlanta’s late comeback.
Allow Thiago Almada to introduce himself pic.twitter.com/CluvmT4mUD— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) March 19, 2022
“I think when I scored that goal, it gave us an extra boost to try to come back and showed we want to keep going,” Almada said through an interpreter. “I felt a lot of happiness.”
Still, despite such an incredible goal late in the game, Atlanta was chasing with 10 players on the field. The players kept pushing, and Lennon rescued the draw in the 92nd minute with a free kick.
Brooks Lennon.— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) March 19, 2022
Are you kidding? pic.twitter.com/l5X7dpifL5
Atlanta United walked away from this one with a point in the bag, but this was not a good performance by any stretch of the imagination. Montreal outshot Atlanta 16-8 and amassed 2.9 xG to Atlanta’s 0.7. Here’s a visual aid:
“To be able to come back even though we’re not happy with ties at home, it almost feels like a win for us in the locker room because of the circumstances,” Lennon said. “We were down 3-1, and we were able to tie it 3-3 with a man down.
“That right there just shows resiliency, fight, determination and you know, the never give up mentality which ... every Atlanta United players should have.”
We live in a simulation.
3 - @ATLUTD scored 3 goals from outside the box against CF Montréal, the first team to do so in an @MLS match since Atlanta against Montréal in April 2018. Redux. pic.twitter.com/JYDZVtslid— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) March 19, 2022
Atlanta United will travel to D.C. United on April 2 after the conclusion of the international break.