Already this season we’ve witnessed two questionable red card decisions in Atlanta United’s short, two-month existence. Another came tonight when Yamil Asad accidentally elbowed a Toronto defender while trying to chase down a ball in open play. After the referee spent almost a full minute communicating back and forth with side judges, he decided to give Asad a straight red. Not a warning or a yellow, a straight red card. It’s a shame another terrible miscall had to occur because it put a dark cloud on an otherwise amazing game.
Our backline was pushed to its limit in the first half. The combination of Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vázquez proved to be a force as Toronto’s offensive push leaned heavily on the duo. Leandro González Pirez and Michael Parkhurst had their hands full in the first half having to deal with the aforementioned plus Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.
Down 2-1 at the half, United came out in the second half with adjustments and an immediate goal by Tito Villalba (his second) to draw the game level 2-2. The second half of the match is where United went down a man after Yasad’s ejection.
“Two very good draws against two of the best teams in the league,” Atlanta head coach Tata Martino said. “In tonight’s case, playing a man down, being at a disadvantage, it’s a valuable result.”
Kenwyne Jones stepped up and made a difference up front. The big man was able to hold the ball and allow time for the midfield to push forward and set up a counterattack. He can’t make the runs like a Josef Martinez or a Tito Villalba, but the Trinidadian captain can make good use of possession, win headers at will, and plays a key role when defending set pieces.
Shots: 20-6 Toronto
Shots on Target: 9-5 Toronto
Corner kicks: 6-2 Toronto
Saves: 7-3 Atlanta
Clearances: 26-6 Atlanta
Offside: 2-1 Atlanta
Possession: 53-47 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 79-74 Toronto
Even though he allowed two goals, my man of the match still goes to Alec Kann. The reason being? We could’ve lost 5-2 if it weren’t for the keeper’s heroics. Plus the two goals Toronto scored were pure magic. It wasn’t like a ball crept through his legs or he allowed a horrendous own goal, Giovinco curled in a howler and the second one came off a cross he would’ve never been able to block.
“He just prepared me for Giovinco, Altidore and all the weapons they have,” said Kann, referring to preparation from coach Aaron Hyde. “My job was to keep us in the game. We were up against the ropes in the 1st half and thankfully I was able to keep us in the game. That’s a huge point that shows the character of the group and should be huge for us as the season goes on.”
Atlanta United returns to action Saturday, April 15, against Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports South.
Photo: Eric Rossitch