In the club’s final match of the 2022 campaign, Atlanta United welcomed the defending MLS Cup champion New York City FC for a meeting on Decision Day. Andrew Gutman scored his fourth goal of the season, but Atlanta United conceded twice and fell in their season finale 2-1.
First half – Atlanta United celebrates Pride, Edwin Mosquera makes his first start
Head coach Gonzalo Pineda had a few change-ups in mind for Atlanta United’s starting XI. In his 12th overall appearance since joining the club during the summer transfer window, winger Edwin Mosquera made his first start of his Atlanta United career.
Sunday also marked Atlanta United’s annual match to celebrate Pride in Atlanta. The club honored the occasion in a variety of ways. The team wore Pride pre-match tops during warm-ups, the Atlanta Women’s Chorus and Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus sang the national anthem prior, and Pride-themed retail was also available to purchase at the Team Store. Also, in place of a rigged TIFO, supporters in the Gulch held up a display made of 16 Pride flags.
New York City FC opened the scoring early. Winger Talles Magno sent a smooth through ball on a first touch to midfielder Gabriel Pereira inside the box. Atlanta United goalkeeper Raúl Gudiño came off his line a bit early, and all Pereira had to do was chip the ball over to put the visitors ahead 1-0 in the ninth minute.
Atlanta’s best chances in the first half arrived in the 23rd and 24th minutes. The home team created a takeaway in their attacking third. Dom Dwyer, combining with the midfield, found Luiz Araújo. Araújo took a shot on frame, but NYCFC captain and goalkeeper Sean Johnson collected the shot for the first save of the match. The very next play, Araújo ended up with the ball and unloaded a shot, but it sailed high.
Atlanta United possessed 46 percent of the first half and struggled to string enough passes together to create cohesive play. The first 45 showed why New York City FC is ranked third in the Eastern Conference. The visitors were the more efficient side, moving the ball fluidly and creating more chances.
Second half – New York City scores again, Atlanta United climbs to within one
Pineda started the second 45 with some halftime substitutions. Josef Martínez, Marcelino Moreno and Rocco Ríos Novo entered the match. Dom Dwyer, Matheus Rossetto and Gudiño were subbed off.
In one of Atlanta’s most exciting chances on the day, midfielder Thiago Almada found himself with the ball in the center of the pitch. He carried the ball up field then fed it to Moreno making a vertical run. Moreno, patient while Almada made his run, gave it back. At close range, Almada took a shot, but New York City blocked the chance.
New York City FC came right back and scored to go ahead 2-0 in the 60th minute. On a corner kick, defender Alexander Callens headed the ball into dangerous territory toward the far post. New York City forward Héber hit the ball cleanly with the inside of his foot on the first touch. The goal extended New York City’s lead to two goals.
In the 61st minute, Mosquera subbed off from Franco Ibarra.
Atlanta United found the back of the net in the 67th minute. With his left foot, Araújo sent a cross into the box from the right side that Almada flicked up into the air. That’s when Gutman came running on and knocked the ball into the net for a clean finish to bring Atlanta United’s deficit to just one.
Homegrown defender Caleb Wiley entered the match in the 86th minute, replacing Amar Sejdić.
The final 30 minutes of play shifted the momentum more toward Atlanta United. The team showed fight and created more opportunities. However, Atlanta United couldn't find the equalizer and concluded the 2022 season with a 2-1 loss.
Andrew Gutman puts Atlanta United on the board in the 67th minute