Atlanta United hosted Columbus Crew on Saturday for its record-breaking final regular season home match of the season. Despite Atlanta and Columbus being the two highest-scoring clubs in MLS, only two goals were scored in the match. It seemed as if the visitors would be going home with a win, but a stoppage-time goal from Atlanta's Miles Robinson leveled the scoreline at 1-1 to split the points.
Down a goal with only a few minutes remaining, Atlanta earned a free kick right outside the box. Thiago Almada sent in the cross and found the head of Robinson, who redirected it into goal in the 97th minute. It was Robinson's second goal of the season.
"Thiago put in a great ball," Robinson said. "I was trying to start behind the defense, but without that ball, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to put it in, so I just put it on target."
Atlanta’s search for the first goal started early in the sixth minute. Starting all the way from the back line, they connected multiple passes and created a great build up before landing at Brooks Lennon. The fullback’s left-footed shot went just over the crossbar. Later in the first half, Xande Silva cut inside the box and took a shot, but his was also a little high.
Columbus put Atlanta’s defense to the test throughout the first 45. The visitors took 11 shots and sent in nine crosses; however, the 5-Stripes were on high alert, winning 17 duels and making 15 clearances.
"I thought they played really well," Lennon said. "I have to give them credit. They controlled the ball very well. And not every game is going to be beautiful. We're not going to have all the possession. Sometimes you got to defend really well, and I thought we did that."
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan came out with back-to-back saves for Atlanta to start the second half. Columbus' Cucho Hernández, who was the shot taker in both attempts, blasted a couple shots from the center of the box, forcing Guzan to make the reflexive saves.
Hernández wouldn't be stopped for long, as the Colombian striker found the back of the net in 65th minute. Midfielder Aidan Morris made a run down the left side before cutting inside. He played Hernández at the top of the box, and he placed his shot into the bottom left corner for the 1-0 lead.
Atlanta’s first chance of the second half came soon after substitute Edwin Mosquera entered the match. Lennon played Mosquera running down the right flank, and he made a cross in front of goal. The ball passed just in front of the boot of striker Giorgos Giakoumakis inside the 6-yard box.
In the dying minute of the match, Atlanta almost found the equalizer through defender Caleb Wiley. Thiago Almada split two defenders to find the fullback making a run into the box, but the ball had a little too much pace and was an easy collect for Columbus goalkeeper Patrick Schulte.
The fight continued into stoppage time with Columbus preserving the lead with two consecutive saves. Almada took a shot from outside the box and Schulte made a diving save to push it out wide. The rebound fell to Lennon, who sent in another cross, but it was cleared for a corner.
"I felt that tactically, we could have done a bit better, both on and off the ball," head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. "But what I take from today's performance is the fight of the team was always present. Many, many games we're fighting until the end, and that's the signature to me of a championship team."
Atlanta's goal in the 97th minute was one of many stoppage time goals this season. The assist on the goal from Almada was his 17th of the season, which improves him to the 2nd all-time club assist leader in the regular season with 29, passing Miguel Almirón.
Shots on target
Up next – Atlanta United closes out the regular season at FC Cincinnati
The 5-Stripes will have one week off before playing their final match of the regular season at TQL Stadium on Saturday, October 21. The two sides faced off last month in Atlanta, and FC Cincinnati earned a 2-1 win.