The first of Atlanta United's two preseason friendlies during their 10-day stay in México kicked off Saturday. Atlanta United played two matches, a total of four 30-minute quarters, against Mexican club Atlante FC at Estadio Ciudad de los Deportes in Mexico City. The first match resulted in a 1-1 draw. In the second, Atlanta United fell 3-0.
Atlanta United Starting XI
Brad Guzan (C), Andrew Gutman, Juanjo Purata, Miles Robinson, Brooks Lennon, Franco Ibarra, Matheus Rossetto, Thiago Almada, Caleb Wiley, Machop Chol, Luiz Araújo
First quarter - Atlante FC scores early
The two teams kicked off at 7:00 p.m. local time, Atlanta United wearing their Forest Kit. The host, Atlante FC, sold tickets to the match so local fans were in attendance. On one end was a supporters section waving red and blue flags and beating drums, giving it the feeling of a real match day.
It was indeed the hosts who got on the board first. Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan went to block a long shot, but the rebound fell right to Atlante FC and they were able to tap it in to make it 1-0 early.
In one of the best looks of the period for Atlanta United, Franco Ibarra sent the ball out wide to Caleb Wiley. The Homegrown was patient as Andrew Gutman made his run. Wiley found Gutman with a diagonal ball at the near post, but the pass was just a little too long for Gutman to get off a shot.
Atlanta United nearly got there again a couple more times. After some possession, Machop Chol found Luiz Araújo streaking inside the box, but the Brazilian's shot was a bit off frame. Gutman earned a foul late in the first period, which set up a free kick outside the box. Araújo sent in a great ball, which looked to get on the foot of Juanjo Purata, but the tap went high.
Second quarter - Matheus Rossetto scores for Atlanta United
All of the starters returned for the next period. Atlanta United answered early in the second quarter. Around the 32nd minute, Matheus Rossetto ripped a shot into the low corner to even the match.
Rossetto's goal ended up being the equalizer and the result of the first match was a 1-1 draw.
Third quarter - Atlanta FC goes ahead
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda sent out a new XI for the second game: Clément Diop, Aiden McFadden, Noah Cobb, Kofi Twumasi, Ronald Hernández, Santiago Sosa, Nick Firmino, Alan Carleton, Tyler Young, Jackson Conway, Luke Brennan.
Atlante FC scored around the 67th minute to go up 1-0 in the second game.
Right before the end of the period, Atlante FC was awarded a penalty kick. Atlanta United goalkeeper Clément Diop guessed right and got a hand on the ball, but the shot trickled through to put the home side up 2-0.
During the final 30-minutes of the contest, Pineda made several substitutions. Shawn Lanza came in at left back, David Mejia replaced Alan Carleton and Daniel Sebhatu came on for Jackson Conway.
But Atlante FC wasn't done. Around the 119th minute, they scored a beautiful goal from long range to stretch the lead and make the final score of the second match 3-0 in favor of the hosts.
Up next in Atlanta United's preseason
The team has an off day tomorrow, then returns for the final days of training in Mexico City on Monday and Tuesday. The second of Atlanta United's two preseason friendlies in México will be Wednesday, Feb. 8 against Cruz Azul.