Yet another trademark, late fight back earned a hard-earned road point for Atlanta United against the Philadelphia Union Saturday.
With midfielder Carlos Carmona serving a one-match suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards, midfielder Chris McCann was handed his first league start of the season. Meanwhile, head coach Tata Martino added an extra wrinkle to the offense by bringing Yamil Asad into the center of the park and pushing Almirón out to the wing.The full lineup: Brad Guzan (GK), Anton Walkes (RB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Greg Garza (LB), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Chris McCann (CM), Miguel Almirón (LW), Yamil Asad (CAM), Tito Villalba (RW), Josef Martinez (ST).
The game got off to a tough start for Atlanta, wearing their grey and red road kits. In the 18th minute, Philadelphia’s Roland Alberg beat the offside trap and poked a lobbed through ball into the Atlanta net. Six minutes later it was Philadelphia’s Alejandro Bedoya getting on the end of a corner kick to volley from close range and take a shock 2-0 lead in the 24th minute.
But Atlanta fought back. Just two minutes later, a nicely-worked short corner routing fell to Greg Garza who put a perfect cross onto the head of Josef Martinez. The Venezuelan striker hit an astonishing headed pass into the path of the onrushing Yamil Asad, who only needed one touch to blast one into the roof of the net to cut the lead to 2-1.
Atlanta United’s mounting pressure paid off early in the second half, with Atlanta gaining a man advantage just seven minutes in – and it was Asad and Martinez combining again. Asad received the ball in the midfield and struck a perfect, swerving through ball into the path of Martinez behind the Philadelphia defense. Martinez turned on the afterburners, and Philadelphia defender Josh Yaro had to pull him down from behind – earning a red card for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
The final 40 minutes was near-constant Atlanta pressure, with the Five Stripes’ trademark press getting an extra boost with the man advantage. It looked like it may not pay off as the clock ticked into extra time. But as the team has proved their resiliency time and time again, they showed once again that they will fight until the very last moment. Greg Garza collected the ball on the byline and sent a looping cross into the box that Andre Blake could only swat back into pressure inside the box. Substitute Tyrone Mears stepped up with a brave header in heavy traffic that looped over the goalkeeper and into the empty net.
The late equalizer earned a hard-fought road point for Atlanta United, who jumped into sixth place and a playoff spot at the time of the final whistle, with games in hand on much of their opposition. The team will now take a break for international play before making their debut in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 10th against FC Dallas. Tickets are already sold out for that match, so make sure you have a spot in the following match, against the New England Revolution on September 13th – click here for tickets.