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RECAP: Gressel’s first career goal earns Atlanta a point in Portland in 1-1 draw

Atlanta United fought to a 1-1 draw on the road against Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon. Julian Gressel gave Atlanta the lead in the 46th minute with his first-career MLS goal, but Liam Ridgewell equalized for Portland as the two teams split the points in front of 21,144 fans at Providence Park. Atlanta has now earned nine points in road matches (2-2-3), the second most in MLS this season.

“It’s good to have played good soccer, but we left with our hands empty,” Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino said. “We were the better team.”

After a scoreless first half, Atlanta (3-4-3, 12 points) opened the scoring just 30 seconds after halftime. Jeff Larentowicz intercepted a pass along the left sideline and sent in a cross intended for Tito Villalba. As Villalba let it pass, Gressel latched onto it and sent a left-footed shot into the near post for his first career goal.

However, the lead wouldn’t stand for long as Portland (5-3-3, 18 points) equalized in the 50th minute off of a free kick. David Guzman sent an attempt perfectly through the penalty area before Ridgewell finally headed it home for the goal.

Despite Atlanta dominating possession, 70-30, the tie remained unbroken during the final 40 minutes. Gressel and Villalba each had opportunities in the final 15 minutes, but Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson was able to save both of them. Alec Kann, meanwhile, had a game-high four saves including his best in the 74th minute with a diving left-handed save on an attempt from Fanendo Adi. 

“I think it’s probably the best we have done all year,” Kann said. We looked comfortable playing out of the back – we knew they weren’t going to press us high like New York did and we picked our moments to be a little more direct and our moments to play out and I think we did a good job with that.”

Atlanta United returns to action Saturday, May 20, against Houston Dynamo with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. from Bobby Dodd Stadium. The match will be televised on FOX Sports Southeast.

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