190929_Gressel_MTLRecap

Atlanta United fight to a road draw in Montreal

Atlanta United had everything but the winner Sunday in Montreal, with several late chances to take the lead only thwarted by a spectacular goalkeeping display as they drew 1-1 against the Impact.

Atlanta United came out with some changes to the lineup, with Eric Remedi suspended for the match and Franco Escobar given a night off after being a fixture in the lineup over the past few matches. In their place came Jeff Larentowicz in the middle of the park, while Michael Parkhurst took the armband once again for his 300th career MLS appearance. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro González Pirez (DEF), Miles Robinson (DEF), Michael Parkhurst (DEF), Julian Gressel (DEF), Jeff Larentowicz (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Emerson Hyndman (MID), Justin Meram (FWD), Brandon Vazuez (FWD), Pity Martínez (FWD).

Both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances in a balmy first half, with Brandon Vazquez stinging the palms of the Montreal goalkeeper from distance. Vazquez nearly took the lead minutes before the halftime whistle, after a beautiful cross from Justin Meram and dummy from Emerson Hyndman fell to him at the far post, but his post went over the bar. Brad Guzan came up big in his chance when called upon to send the match into the halftime whistle knotted up at zero, so it was anyone’s match going into the second stanza.

Atlanta United came out of the locker room on the front foot, and Julian Gressel capitalized on their period of pressure with a beautiful team goal. Pity Martínez played it out of trouble into his path, and Gressel touched it past the defender to Emerson Hyndman, whose sumptuous backheel pass found Gressel again to poke home the opening goal of the night.

Montreal didn’t go down without a fight  though, and they got back into the game with one of their first chances of the second half. Okwonkwo got down the right flank and found space on the byline, cutting a pass back to the penalty spot for former Barcelona starlet Bojan to hit home the equalizer.

Atlanta United came back on fire, with the addition of Ezequiel Barco and Tito Villalba into the attack adding a spark as they fought for a winner. It seemed Villalba put the team right back on top with a powerful short-range finish, but it was called back for offside on video review. From there it was a flurry of pressure and chances from Atlanta United. Barco nearly got on the board, curling a free kick toward the top corner that was just fingertips away from finding the top corner. Then Villalba almost found the net again, with a curling shot from the left side clawed away from the corner again. The spectacular stretch of goalkeeping was enough to leave Atlanta United frustrated, with the final score ending 1-1.

Atlanta United still go home with a well-deserved road point, and have a chance to finish strong back at home in the regular-season finale. They face the New England Revolution on Sunday October 6th at 4:00 p.m. ET. Make sure you’re there to root them on by getting your tickets here.

 

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