Atlanta United walks away with 2-2 draw against Houston Dynamo FC


Atlanta United looked to earn a much needed three points at home against Houston Dynamo FC. Up until this match, the two clubs had only played each other three times, and each affair was a blowout by the winning team. This match differed as the 5-Stripes walked away with a 2-2 draw after having a 2-1 lead for over 30 minutes in the second half.

The match began rocky for the 5-Stripes with Houston scoring only five minutes in. Off a set corner piece, Griffin Dorsey’s initial shot went off the crossbar. Only seconds later a header from Franco Escobar gave Houston the 1-0 lead against his former club.

"The positive I saw was also a negative," said interim head coach Rob Valentino at the post match press conference. "I told them before the game, when are in moments like this, you have two options: stand up and fight or give up. The second is not really one for me. So, they stood up and got themselves back in the game - back in the lead. That is the positive I will take from it. We will look at the little intricacies of how we can get better."

The less than the ideal start continued for the 5-Stripes as Edwin Mosquera left the match in the 18th minute of the first half due to injury; homegrown Luke Brennan subbed into the match. This marked the second appearance for Brennan in MLS play. This season, the 19-year-old has started for Atlanta for the Open Cup.

"It is a next man up mentality," said Brennan after the match. "I always have to be ready. I was happy to get in and take my opportunity."

Brennan’s presence seemed to be the spark they needed to jumpstart the match. After two big saves from keeper Brad Guzan Atlanta United tied the game up off a goal from Daniel Ríos. Ríos stayed with the play, going 1v1 with Micael dos Santos down the pitch before ripping a shot just outside the center of the box in the 25th minute. Houston keeper stopped Thiago Almada’s shot point blank but was not able to catch Rios’s.

The rest of the first half saw chances from both clubs; Atlanta’s counter pressure recovered from the initial dominance that Houston showed while Houston was able to clog up Atlanta’s right side. It turned chippy as the time started to tick away in the first half. Both Escobar and Coco Carrasquilla got yellow cards in the 42nd and 44th minute respectively.

On the last play of the first half, during the three added minutes of stoppage time, Houston Dyanmo player Sebastian Kowalczyk's shot went just above net. Despite the slow start, Atlanta ended the first half with a 1-1 tie.

"I took advantage of a mistake made by the defender," said Rios after the match. "A pretty nice play between me, Luke (Brennan) and Thiago (Almada). Got a bit lucky there with a nice rebound. I think we set the energy for the team with the goal."

Starting in the second half, the 5-Stripes looked far more comfortable than they did in the first 10 minutes of the match. Both teams looking more tactical in their approach to getting into the final third.

Atlanta took the lead quickly into the second half. It first started with Houston’s Ibrahim Aliyu getting a yellow card Almada took the corner kick that was almost put home by Derrick Williams. In the 55th minute, Xande Silva made a stellar pick, putting the ball in the top right corner of the net.

The match’s physicality only grew as Brennan’s speed and play continued to give Houston fits. Atlanta, knowing the value in a two goal lead, pushed to try and find their third goal of the match. Homegrown Caleb Wiley and defender Williams made some key defensive plays in Houston's final third. In the 76th minute, Jamal Thiaré subbed into the match for Ríos while Houston subbed in Tate Schmitt and Sebastian Ferreira for Erik Sviatchenko and Sebastian Kowalczyk. Atlanta subbed in Jay Jortune for Xande Silva in the 80th minute.

In the 86th minute, Guzan made a diving save on keep Atlanta in the lead. It was a point blant header from Latif Blessing who subbed into the match in the 67th minute.

After throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the 5-Stripes, Houston eventually equalizes the game in the dying minutes of regulation time. Blessing showed patiece in the final third, putting one past Guzan right into net in the 89th minute of the second half.

"It was frustrating as hell," said Derrick Williams when asked about conceding the late goal. "Because other than those two (goals), I don't think they (Houston) had many chances. The header was like a warning and we did not learn from it. We just need to be better."

With seven minutes of stoppage time, Atlanta looked to regain their lead. Unfortunately, that next goal did not come. Atlanta United are now winless in their last seven matches at home.

"I thought we had a lot more fight today," said Williams. "I thought the midfield were very good, and the wingers were excellent. I though Xande (Silva) was very good. I thought off the ball it was the best game I have seen him play so I am happy he got the goal. (Luke) Brennan was brilliant when he came in. Hopefully we can grow on this."

Match Stats
Atlanta United
Houston Dynamo 
Shots on target
Corner kicks
Fouls committed
Passing accuracy 

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