Saturday night, Atlanta United continued their unbeaten streak as they traveled to Toronto and earned a point in a tough 2-2 draw. Behind a brace from Tito Villalba and a seven-save performance in goal from Alec Kann, Atlanta battled back from a one-goal deficit to maintain their second place position in the Eastern Conference table.
Atlanta’s starting XI in Toronto: Alec Kann (GK), Greg Garza (LB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Tyrone Mears (RB), Carlos Carmona (CM), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Julian Gressel (CAM), Yamil Asad (RW), Miguel Almirón (LW), and Tito Villalba (ST).
The start of the match mirrored that of Atlanta United’s clash with Seattle last week: open, gritty and fast-paced. It was a very back and forth first few minutes in Toronto, but it was Atlanta who broke the deadlock just 15 minutes in. Miguel Almirón settled a pass out of the air in the center circle, turned swiftly, and slotted a through ball to teammate Tito Villalba, who found himself in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper and blasted it past Toronto’s Alexander Bono.
However, Atlanta’s lead didn’t last long. Just minutes later, U.S. International Jozy Altidore, with a one-touch pass inside the penalty area, set up a crashing Sebastian Giovinco who equalized for Toronto. The home side gained the advantage just before the halftime whistle. Some clever play led to a wing back to wing back combination as Steven Beitashour found Justin Morrow inside the six to slot it home.
Toronto garnered the majority of the chances in the first 45 and the visiting goalkeeper, Alec Kann, was quite busy. But after the break, it was apparent Atlanta were not going to settle for their first half performance.
ATL UTD came out of the locker room ready to respond and just minutes after the start of the half, they were level again. Leandro González Pirez, from his own 18-yard-box, picked out Tito Villalba with a beautiful over the top through ball. Villalba outpaced Toronto’s defenders and again came head-to-head with Bono, who failed to stop the 23-year-old Argentine from completing his brace.
The match continued to be a chippy, open battle and in the 74th minute, a controversial call put Atlanta in a difficult position for the remainder of the 90. The referee claimed Yamil Asad intentionally threw an elbow to the head of Eriq Zavaleta and Asad was then sent off with a red card.
Though competing a man down for the last 15 minutes, Atlanta United held on tightly to another hard-earned road point at one of the toughest places to play in the league.
“We were up against the ropes in the 1st half and thankfully I was able to keep us in the game,” said goalkeeper Alec Kann after the match. “That’s a huge point that shows the character of the group and should be huge for us as the season goes on.”
Atlanta continue their four-match road stretch next week as they head to Canada once more to face the Montreal Impact on Saturday, April 15 at 1:00 p.m. ET and will again be locally broadcasted on FOX Sports South.
To welcome the team back to the ATL, join the expansion club for their next home match on April 30th against D.C. United by securing the Atlanta United 4-Game Pack or joining the 30,000 season ticket holders and become a Founding Member.