Atlanta United's 10-day trip to México wrapped up with a preseason friendly against Liga MX club Cruz Azul on Wednesday morning. The sides played to a 3-3 draw at the iconic Estadio Azteca, host of two previous FIFA World Cup Finals.
Atlanta United Starting XI vs. Cruz Azul
Brad Guzan (C), Andrew Gutman, Juanjo Purata, Miles Robinson, Brooks Lennon, Franco Ibarra, Caleb Wiley, Thiago Almada, Matheus Rossetto, Luiz Araújo, Machop Chol
First half -- Thiago Almada opens the scoring
After the first 5-10 minutes, Atlanta United settled in and started to create some chances for themselves. In one, Caleb Wiley carried the ball down the field and sent it out wide to Brooks Lennon on the right. Lennon made a good cross, which found the head of Machop Chol on his run in, but the header went high. Chol nearly got there again when he forced a takeaway deep in Cruz Azul's defensive third. He had space and took a shot, but it was saved and Atlanta United earned a corner kick.
About 20 minutes in, Atlanta United opened the scoring. Luiz Araújo found midfielder Thiago Almada centrally toward the top of the box. The World Cup champion made a slick spin to create some space for himself then lined up a low-driven shot on frame to put the visitors ahead 1-0.
Late in the first 45, Cruz Azul earned a direct free kick outside the 18-yard box. The well-placed shot sailed into the left side of the goal to equalize the match 1-1 right before the halftime break.
Second half - Cruz Azul scores, Luiz Araújo answers with a brace
A few starters stayed on for the start of the second half and a few were subbed off. Noah Cobb entered for Miles Robinson, Ronald Hernández came on for Lennon, Nick Firmino replaced Matheus Rossetto and Jackson Conway entered for Chol.
A total of three goals were scored in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Cruz Azul scored first, but then Atlanta United got two goals from Araújo in what was his second brace of the preseason. On the first, Araújo connected with Nick Firmino and a nice on-touch pass from Almada to knock the ball in for a goal. For his second, the Brazilian used his speed to take the ball away deep in Cruz Azul's defensive third and lifted a shot with his reliable left foot to bring Atlanta ahead 3-2 around the 56th minute.
Head coach Gonzalo Pineda made more substitutions. Luke Brennan, Tyler Young, and Alan Carleton entered the match for Araújo, Almada and Franco Ibarra. Later in the half, Aiden McFadden, Kofi Twumasi, David Mejia, Quentin Westberg and Daniel Sebhatu entered the match for Andrew Gutman, Juanjo Purata, Wiley, Brad Guzan and Conway.
In the 77th minute, Cruz Azul equalized. On a corner kick, the home team got two consecutive headers to knock it in past goalkeeper Quentin Westberg.
The 2s and Academy players, otherwise known as the "young bucks" finished out the match, and the result was a 3-3 draw.
Up next in Atlanta United's preseason
This is the final preseason friendly the 5-Stripes will play in México. Up next, the team returns to Atlanta tomorrow and prepares to face another Liga MX team. Atlanta United hosts Toluca FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium NEXT WEEK for the second annual American Family Insurance Cup. The club will also be launching their new primary kit the same day, so be sure to mark February 15 on your calendar.