Atlanta United returned to Ohio for an Eastern Conference matchup, this time against Columbus Crew. After an hour-long delay due to severe weather, the teams kicked off at Lower.com Field and played an exciting match that resulted in a 2-2 draw.
First half – Brooks Lennon starts, Santiago Sosa scores his first MLS goal
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda made a few changes to the lineup to start today’s match. Amar Sejdić got the start in the midfield, pairing up with Santiago Sosa. Andrew Gutman was also back in the starting XI after coming on as a sub last match against New York Red Bulls. Ronaldo Cisneros occupied the no. 9 spot up top for the 5-Stripes.
Brooks Lennon also returned to the starting XI for the first time since June and quickly made his presence known on the pitch. He made a good pass up ahead to a streaking Luiz Araújo for the team’s first attacking look of the night (although Araújo was called offsides). Then, Lennon took the first corner kick of the match in the eighth minute.
Atlanta United’s first shot on goal was taken by Gutman. He, along with Cisneros, created a takeaway deep in Atlanta United’s attacking third. The fullback tried to take advantage and whipped a low shot on frame to the far post, but Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room slapped it away for an Atlanta corner.
The 5-Stripes looked comfortable in their new shape, creating runs down the line and feeding the ball inside the box. A rebound from such a play created the first goal of the night in the 21st minute. The Crew’s clearance on an Lennon’s cross didn’t get far outside the box. Sosa collected it with space and time and delivered a world-class strike for his first career MLS goal.
Later in the half, it looked like Sosa scored his second goal of the match on a well-timed header off an Atlanta United corner kick. The ball found the back of the net, but it didn’t count because of a foul called.
It was a strong first half for the 5-Stripes on the road. The visiting team outshot the Crew 11-3 with five shots on goal in the first 45. Atlanta United came together defensively as well, making 13 clearances and posting a first-half clean sheet.
Second half - Cucho Hernández scores a brace, Atlanta United answers with Juanjo Purata's header
Columbus Crew found the equalizer in the 66th minute as a result of textbook passing between Luis Díaz and Kevin Molino. The Crew’s high-profile designated player Cucho Hernández was there waiting for the low cross inside the box and finished it off to even the match 1-1.
The game opened up after that and went end-to-end, both teams playing with urgency. In the next few minutes, Columbus came up with two key stops to prevent Atlanta United from regaining the lead. The first, on a Cisneros header from close-range. On the next possession, the defense collapsed into the box and deflected another chance for Atlanta United.
In the 71st minute, Pineda made his first substitutions of the match. Edwin Mosquera and Franco Ibarra replaced Wiley and Sejdić.
On the following play in the 72nd minute, Columbus went ahead for the first time. Defender Will Sands cut back the ball on the flank and crossed it into the box. Cucho waited patiently, created space for himself and delivered past goalkeeper Rocco Ríos Novo. With the goal, Cucho secured his brace on the night and eighth MLS goal since arriving to Columbus in July.
In the 75th minute, Pineda sent on two of his best attackers on the bench. Josef Martínez and Dom Dwyer entered the match for Araújo and Cisneros.
Then, Atlanta United found the equalizer. After nearly scoring a goal on his own, which was called offsides, Mosquera delivered a corner kick. His ball found the head of defender Juanjo Purata near post. The six-foot-two center back put it away for his second career MLS goal to make it 2-2.
Both teams pressed, looking for the game-winner, but an exciting match wrapped in a 2-2 draw at Lower.com Field. With the point, Atlanta United earns its third straight road result.
Up next – Atlanta hosts Wayne Rooney and D.C. United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
No midweek matches for Atlanta United this week, so the team will get some extra time to recover from their busy stretch. Then a week later, the club hosts last-place D.C. United and their new head coach Wayne Rooney at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 28.
Only four home matches remain in the regular season for the 5-Stripes, so don’t wait and secure your seat today!