Atlanta United came from one goal down to draw Orlando City SC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Heineken Rivalry Week. After conceding a direct free kick in the first half, the home side found the equalizer in the second 45 to draw 1-1 and gain a point in the Eastern Conference standings.
First half – Luiz Araújo returns to the starting XI, Orlando City scores direct free kick
Gonzalo Pineda went with the same starting XI he used for Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake with one exception. Luiz Araújo replaced Thiago Almada. Araújo was unavailable against Real Salt Lake due to yellow card accumulation.
On the other side, Atlanta United supporters saw a familiar face in purple and white. Jake Mulraney was in the starting lineup for Orlando City SC. The Irish midfielder made 47 appearances for Atlanta United before being traded on May 5.
Orlando City started the match as the aggressor, possessing more in the first minutes and drawing four fouls in the first 15 minutes. Their play led to the first goal in the 10th minute. Orlando City earned a penalty at the top of the 18-yard box. Midfielder Mauricio Pereyra converted the direct free kick to open the scoring.
However, Atlanta United settled in and ended the first half possessing more of the ball (58 percent). One of the best chances of the half for Atlanta came in the 38th minute. Atlanta United earned a penalty outside the 18-yard box. Araújo’s service into the box found the head of Ronaldo Cisneros, but goalkeeper Pedro Gallese punched it over the crossbar to keep the home side off the board.
Atlanta United ended the first half in search of the equalizer, but with Josef Martínez and Dom Dwyer available, two strikers hungry to score against Orlando City, Pineda could send some fire on the pitch in the second 45.
Second half – Juanjo Purata scores first career MLS goal, Dom Dwyer and Josef Martínez subbed on to try for the game-winner
With the 5-Stripes looking for the equalizer, Pineda sent on the striker who’s scored the most against Orlando City. Josef Martínez went on to the pitch, greeted with a loud applause from his home supporters. Almada also entered the match in the 60th minute. Aiden McFadden and Amar Sejdić subbed off.
The home side was knocking on the door for most of the second half and found the equalizer in the 71st minute. After earning a penalty, Almada sent service into the box. Defender Juanjo Purata headed it in to even the match 1-1.
The goal was Purata’s first career MLS goal, in just his third appearance. Almada was credited with the assist, his sixth on the season.
In the 74th minute, Dom Dwyer entered the match for Atlanta United. Dwyer played four seasons for Orlando City before joining the 5-Stripes as a free agent this past offseason.
The two striker subs certainly put Orlando City on the defense. In a flurry of action around the 80th minute mark, Dwyer and Martínez took two shots that were dangerously close to putting Atlanta United ahead.
The home side continued to push into stoppage time. Martínez had a golden chance 1v1, but his shot bounced off the post. Atlanta United out-shot the opposition 18-3 but couldn't find the match winner. Atlanta United closes out its three-match homestand with four points and a 6-8-6 record.
Up next – Consecutive road matches, then Atlanta United hosts Seattle Sounders at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Atlanta United is on the road for two consecutive matches against L.A. Galaxy and Chicago Fire. Then, the club returns home on August 6 to face Gonzalo Pineda’s former team, the Seattle Sounders.