Atlanta United traveled to Audi Field on Wednesday to face Eastern Conference opponent D.C. United for the second time this season. An early goal from Atlanta's newest designated player Saba Lobjanidze gave the 5-Stripes the 1-0 lead, but an 80th minute goal from D.C. splits the points between the two sides.
Atlanta has now earned a result in its last three away matches (1-0-2). D.C. had not conceded a goal in three matches prior to Lobjanidze's goal.
It was all Saba Lobjanidze in the opening minutes for Atlanta. He sent in a cross in the third minute for Giorgos Giakoumakis, but the striker’s shot hit off the post. Three minutes later, Lobjanidze cut inside from the top of the box and sent a low shot straight to D.C. goalkeeper Alex Bono.
The Georgian winger finally found the opening goal 14 minutes in. Forward Tyler Wolff won the ball off a defender in the left corner before floating in a cross to the far post. Lobjanidze, running into the box, tapped the ball past Bono to put Atlanta up 1-0. It was Wolff’s first assist of the season, and Lobjanidze has now recorded three goals and two assists in five matches.
“It’s a really great statistic like that," Lobjanidze said, "but first of all, I’m a team player, so for me, it’s most important if you win the games. So the statistic, of course, is really nice, it’s a good feeling and for my confidence. First in my mind is Atlanta has to win.”
D.C. had a few chances to tie things up in the first half, including back-to-back chances at around the half hour mark. Forward José Fajardo had a breakaway on the right side, but his shot sailed over the goal. Moments later, Fajardo tried to redirect a cross from Ruan, but the header bounced just past the far post.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan got his first real tests of the night to start the second half. A through-ball meant for Fajardo looked dangerous, but Guzan came to the top of the box to collect it. D.C. took advantage of a loose ball a minute later, and Gabriel Pirani took a shot from outside the box, but Guzan dove for the save.
It looked like the momentum might shift D.C.'s way when the referee issued a penalty kick for the home side in the 62nd minute. However, the call was overturned and ruled offside after VAR review.
D.C. hunted for the equalizer all second half and finally found it in the 80th minute. D.C. connected multiple passes down the center of the field before landing at Pirani, who sent a shot from the top of the box to the bottom left corner past Guzan. Despite eight intense minutes of stoppage time, neither side was able to find the go-ahead goal.
"I told the players we’re disappointed for losing two points because we were actually winning 1-0," head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. "I think we could have scored one of those chances in the first 15-20 minutes, and then probably the game was more on our side and we had more spaces. Disappointed for losing two points, but after the other results that are happening, probably it’s not a bad result."
Pineda made three lineup changes from Atlanta's previous match against Inter Miami CF. Matheus Rossetto, Xande Silva and Edwin Mosquera were second half substitutes for Lobjanidze, Wolff and Jay Fortune.
Shots on target
Up next – The 5-Stripes return home to host CF Montréal
Atlanta United will close out the double matchweek on Saturday, September 23 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against CF Montreal. The two sides met earlier this season, and a Brooks Lennon goal earned Atlanta a 1-0 victory on the road.