Atlanta United went on the road Saturday for a big Eastern Conference showdown with FC Cincinnati. At TQL Stadium, defender Andrew Gutman scored his second goal in as many matches and a fast-paced, frantic match that went end-to-end resulted in a 2-2 draw.
First half – Andrew Gutman and Ronald Hernández return to the starting lineup, Thiago Almada and Brandon Vázquez score
Saturday marked the return of two players for head coach Gonzalo Pineda’s lineup. Andrew Gutman and Ronald Hernández were back in the starting XI. Both defenders missed some time due to injury and got the start for the first time since May. Marcelino Moreno also got the start, and the captain’s armband, for the Five Stripes.
Gutman created the first exciting sequence for Atlanta United. He made a takeaway in the open field and dribbled it down the pitch. After a nice cutback, Gutman crossed the ball on a point to the center of the box. Ronaldo Cisneros controlled the pass with his back to goal and dropped it back. Thiago Almada’s first-touch shot went off the post and eventually led to a corner for Atlanta United.
Almada didn’t miss his next chance. Atlanta United brought the ball up the field and Luiz Araújo dished it to the attacking midfielder lurking at the top of the box. Almada struck it first-time with his right foot and the shot curled beautifully into the upper right corner to give the visiting side the opening goal and silence the crowd at TQL Stadium.
The goal was Almada’s fourth of the season. The assist was no. 4 for Araújo.
Thiago Almada opens the scoring with this bending beauty, Luiz Araújo assists
The first half went end-to-end. Atlanta goalkeeper Rocco Ríos Novo came up with two spectacular diving saves, one in the 16th minute on a shot from Brenner then again in the 26th. However, he couldn’t stop the quick transition that developed deep in Cincinnati’s attacking third after a giveaway. Brandon Vázquez put it away for his 15th goal of the season to even the match 1-1 in the 29th minute.
The Orange and Blue went ahead minutes before halftime. On a set piece, Atlanta United failed to clear the ball, and Brenner’s header was deflected into goal to give FC Cincinnati the lead 2-1.
In a wild sequence, Atlanta United nearly equalized in the 43rd minute. Caleb Wiley kept the ball alive on the left end line and chipped a cross over goal. Luiz Araújo put a firm shot on frame, but Cincinnati's rookie goalkeeper Roman Celentano made the stop. The Five Stripes followed with a series of strikes, but eventually the ball went out of bounds for a goal kick.
Second half – Josef Martínez enters the match, Brooks Lennon returns, Andrew Gutman comes up with another massive moment
Defender Brooks Lennon came on as a sub in the second half, replacing Hernández. It was Lennon’s first appearance since June 19 against Inter Miami. The defender missed some time due to a knee injury. Pineda also sent on Josef Martínez for Cisneros. Martínez, who has scored six goals in his career against FC Cincinnati, entered in the 59th minute.
Atlanta nearly evened the match in the 69th minute. A nice combination led to the ball with Martínez in the middle of the box. That might seem like a situation for a Martínez shot, but seeing numbers, the striker passed it back to Moreno. The midfielder put an attractive shot on frame, but Celentano knocked it over the crossbar.
As the visiting side looked for the equalizer, Pineda sent on some attackers with fresh legs. Dom Dwyer and Edwin Mosquera entered the match for Moreno and Wiley in the 69th minute.
In the 78th minute, FC Cincinnati nearly went up by two goals. Defender Alvas Powell sent a cross into the box and Brenner was able to connect and put a header on frame. Strong, quick hands from Ríos Novo blocked the shot and kept Atlanta United’s deficit at one.
Finally, Atlanta United found the equalizer in the 83rd minute. Gutman made a diagonal run that put him inside the box and he received the ball from Martínez in a tight space. The defender was able to knock it past the goalie and score his second goal in as many matches to even it at 2-2.
Aiden McFadden replaced Gutman soon after the play in the 86th minute.
Ríos Novo came up with maybe his biggest stop of the match in the 88th minute. Cincinnati midfielder Luciano Acosta received the ball inside the box closely defended and positioned himself to put a shot on goal from close range. Ríos Novo reacted quickly and made his sixth save of the match.
It was a frantic finish for Atlanta United in the final minutes. Almada had an opportunity for the game-winner when Mosquera whipped a ball into the box from the flank, but Almada's run was inches away. The match finished with a 2-2 draw at TQL Stadium, earning a road result for Atlanta United against a conference opponent.
Highlights: FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United | August 13, 2022
Up next – Atlanta United hosts New York Red Bulls for midweek match
On Wednesday, Aug. 17 the club returns to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face off against the New York Red Bulls. Secure your seat and be part of the rowdy and proud on match day!