When the going gets tough the tough get going, or so the saying goes. And to say things have been tough for Jacob Peterson in his first year Atlanta United would be an understatement. After a promising start scoring in his first appearance for the club, Peterson suffering a nagging calf injury that has kept him out of the squad for months.

“It was a very frustrating time for me personally,” Peterson said after Sunday’s match against Sporting Kansas City. “Especially with a new team, that’s not something that you want to go through. Hopefully I’ve turned the corner. I have to give a lot of credit to the athletic trainers and the doctors here, they did a great job and I’m really indebted to them for helping me get back.”

But in his first match back in the squad – against his former club no less – Peterson made an instant impact, scoring a stoppage-time equalizer to earn an impressive point on the road against Western Conference leaders Sporting KC. It was his second goal in just 115 minutes of play for Atlanta United, albeit months apart.

“It was late in the game, and it was a moment that fell to me. If I missed that, these guys in here would have given me a hard time,” Peterson joked.

The goal may have been helped by a fortuitous bounce, but being in the right place at the right time is an important skill. And Head Coach Tata Martino said Jacob’s grit brings a much-needed element to the club.

“He gives us a lot of motivation,” Martino said through a translator. “He brings a lot of will and sometimes in games like tonight, that is what a team needs.”

Jacob was the first person to say after the game that the goal probably won’t be nominated for the Goal of the Week. But every goal counts the same, and this one helped secure a valuable result.

“It’s a long season,” Peterson said. “We know that we’re not going to be at our best every single game, but it’s something we are striving to be. If anything, it just shows the resiliency that we have in this locker room. I think most important for us it’s coming to a difficult place [and getting the result].”

Peterson pointed out that the playoff push is a tight battle at the top, and the gritty wins can teach the team just as much as a high-scoring blowout.

“I think it’s something that we can draw on later in the year, going away from home and getting a big point in a hostile environment,” Peterson said. “We have a lot of home games at the end of the season and hopefully we can put together some good performances back-to-back and make sure that we can secure our playoff spot.”

The Five Stripes now have have a short break from action followed by a two-game road trip against DC United and the Philadelphia Union later this month. They will then return to Atlanta to face FC Dallas on September 10th in the first ever game at their permanent home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Tickets are already sold out for that one, so make sure to click here to reserve your spot for the following home game against the New England Revolution on September 13th.