It wasn’t a perfect match by any means, but Atlanta United 2 found a way to squeeze out an away point against OKC Energy FC, playing to a 2-2 draw at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City on Sunday night. The 2s, who defeated OKC by a 1-0 count on May 1, now stand at 1-1-1 on the young campaign ahead of their home opener against undefeated FC Tulsa on Wednesday in Kennesaw.
The story of this one was Atlanta’s ability to shake off adversity and ultimately deny OKC (0-2-2) a win on home soil. OKC initially appeared as if they’d put in the opener in the 33rd minute, but an Energy FC player was ruled to have fouled an Atlanta player inside the box to negate the goal. Villyan Bijev, though, ultimately did put the Energy ahead in the 36th minute but paid the price as he appeared to suffer a right leg injury in the process. He was fortunately able to walk off on his own accord but gave way for Tucker Stephenson.
But ATL UTD 2 leveled things up with just over 10 minutes played in the 2nd half after they were awarded a penalty in the 54th minute. Darwin Matheus was taken down inside the scoring area by OKC captain Conor Donovan, but despite Matias Benitez’s initial attempt from the spot being stopped by Atlanta native and former Georgia State star C.J. Cochran, the River Plate loanee fired in the rebound to put the 2s back on terms.
Energy FC, though, took the lead back again in the 65th minute. A free kick from outside the left side of the box glanced off the head of an Atlanta defender and found its way to Mitchell Osmond, who volleyed it past Rocco Rios Novo to make it 2-1.
In previous years, ATL UTD 2 may have seen the wheels come off a bit, but they hung in and eventually found the equalizing goal. And it was the homegrown Tyler Wolff opening his account for the first time in his professional career to deny OKC three points on the day.
“I am pleased with them, their mentality and the spirit within the team,” said ATL UTD 2 interim head coach Tony Annan. “I thought we were poor in defending set pieces and we let them in the game that way. But we managed to get ourselves back in the game with the mentality and the fight that we showed. I am happy with the team. I am happy for the boys.
“And obviously delighted for ‘Wolffy’. He’s getting back to the way he used to be. He scored a wonderful goal which he is very capable of.”
After three games away from home, ATL UTD 2 will play its home opener against FC Tulsa at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at 7:30pm on Wednesday, their first home match in front of fans since last March.
“We can’t wait to play in front of our fans in our stadium,” Annan said. “That will be a nice welcome back home and we’re excited about that game.”