A night that looked set for victory ends in disappointment as two late goals from FC Dallas sunk Atlanta United in a 3-2 loss in Texas.
Tata Martino stuck with the same lineup that was so dominant last weekend against Orlando City, with Julian Gressel retaining his spot in the center of midfield and Tito Villalba lining up on the right wing. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Mikey Ambrose (LB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Franco Escobar (RB), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Julian Gressel (CM), Ezequiel Barco (LW), Miguel Almirón (CAM), Tito Villalba (RW), Josef Martinez (ST).
Atlanta United came out quickly, but couldn’t find their way through the FC Dallas midfield press for the opening stages of the match. That changed in the 17th minute, when a beautiful passage of passing play led to a Mikey Ambrose cross to Julian Gressel that was volleyed on target but just kept out of goal. And shortly after, it was Dallas who struck first with a free kick just outside the box, with Swiss defender Reto Ziegler curling one up over the wall and in to take the lead in the 22nd minute.
But Atlanta United fought back to equalize just before halftime. It all started with a wonderful piece of skill from Tito Villalba on the right wing, with the Argentine beating the Dallas fullback and crossing in for Josef Martinez to finish just before the halftime whistle.
The Five Stripes were pushed on by the equalizer and came out well on top for the second half, dominating possession and creating chances in and around the Dallas penalty area. The pressure paid off in the 73rd minute with a connection that’s worked so many times for Atlanta United so far. Miguel Almirón received the ball in a pocket of space just outside the box and fed Josef Martinez, who was making a run behind his defender in the box. The Venezuelan made no mistake, finishing near post for his ninth goal in seven games and his league-leading 17th goal of the season.
Atlanta United looked to shut down the final minutes in a tough road environment, but it wasn’t to be. Dallas substitute Tesho Akindele combined well to get behind the Atlanta United back line and scored the equalizer just four minutes from the final whistle. And sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way, and that’s just what happened two minutes later. A corner kick pinballed around the Atlanta United penalty box and ricocheted to the foot of Akindele who finished from close range to make it a shock 3-2 scoreline just two minutes from stoppage time.
It’s a disappointing night for Atlanta United, but they have an almost immediate chance to make it right. They now travel to Philadelphia for another road matchup on Saturday before returning to Atlanta to host the Seattle Sounders in Atlanta for the first time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Tickets to that match are still available, so make sure you’re there to root them on to three points by reserving yours here.