Juanjo Purata's first career MLS goal arrived at the exact right moment his team needed it. The header in the 71st minute drew the home side even with rival Orlando City SC in a fierce matchup during Heineken Rivalry Week.
And on Monday, the league rewarded Purata, naming the defender to the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi.
His goal, which came on a direct free kick served in from midfielder Thiago Almada, ignited an already rowdy crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta United pushed to find the game-winner, dominating the possession and creating more chances the rest of the match. Despite the collective effort, which required major saves from Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, the match concluded in a 1-1 draw.
Juanjo Purata makes his first career MLS goal count, equalizes against Orlando City SC
For Purata, his first career goal for Atlanta United arrives in just his third MLS appearance. He joined the club during the June international window on loan from Tigres, a professional club in Mexico. The 24-year-old adapted quickly to MLS -- even more quickly than his head coach anticipated.
"Suddenly, he just adapted and played up to a very good standard," head coach Gonzalo Pineda said.
Purata earned a spot in the starting XI during Atlanta's 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on July 13 his first career MLS start. And on Sunday, the center back showed how he can help the team on both ends of the field.
"Obviously attacking set pieces is one of the big reasons why Carlos [Bocanegra] signed Purata because he's very good and he's very dominant in the aerial duels," Pineda said. "Defensively, he gives us a lot of support. Offensively, he's a big threat with his good timing in the air."
It's the second consecutive week than an Atlanta United player was named to the league's Team of the Week. Striker Ronaldo Cisneros earned the honors for his brace against Real Salt Lake. Pineda also was named Coach of the Week for the team's midweek win.