190317_ATLPHI_BarcoRecap

Atlanta United earn hard-fought point at home vs the Union

Not a result they wanted, but another point in the bag for Atlanta United as they battled to a 1-1 draw at home against the Philadelphia Union Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Frank de Boer shuffled his lineup after another fixture-congested week, with Tito Villalba making another appearance up front and Leandro González Pirez returning to the back line after serving his midweek Concacaf Champion’s League suspension. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Miles Robinson (CB), Jeff Larentowicz (MID), Eric Remedi (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Julian Gressel (MID), Pity Martínez (FWD), Josef Martinez (FWD), Tito Villalba (FWD).

It was a cagey opening period, with both teams struggling to create chances against well-drilled defenses. Atlanta United nearly took the opener 35 minutes in with great combination play. Michael Parkhurst played an incisive pass behind the back line that Pity Martínez latched onto with his left foot, skidding a low cross across the pitch to Josef Martinez in the middle, but his outstretched leg could only smack his finish off the crossbar and out. But Miles Robinson’s play stood above the rest, with his incredible goal-line save keeping the scoreline even just minutes before the halftime whistle.

The Five Stripes had to overcome a suckerpunch to start the second half, with a deflected long-range effort putting Brad Guzan on the wrong foot and taking the early lead. Atlanta United were down but not out, and they fought back with much more attacking impetus in the second half. Brek Shea and Ezequiel Barco came in just after the hour mark and the latter made an immediate impact. It started with Barco on the ball, as he cut in with a nice dribble before spraying a pass out to the right wing. Julian Gressel was there for a trademark service, and it was Barco himself that got on the end of the return ball, sending an arcing, powerful header over the head of Andre Blake and inside the far post.

The Five Stripes kept pushing for the final goal that would bring them their first three-point performance of the season, but it wasn’t to be as the clock ticked down toward the final whistle. Atlanta now gets a chance to get back to the training ground and hone in on their gameplan with the international break on the horizon. They’ll be back after the break with road matches against the Columbus Crew and the New England Revolution before returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face FC Dallas on April 20th. Tickets to that match are still available, so make sure you’ve reserved yours here.

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