Atlanta United settle for tough 2-2 draw against top-ranked Toronto FC

Atlanta United played to a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC on Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of another MLS record-breaking crowd of 71,874 fans. Yamil Asad and Josef Martinez scored goals for Atlanta, which secured a home match in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. The club will play Columbus Crew SC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on either Wednesday, Oct. 25 or Thursday, Oct. 26.

With two goals, Atlanta became just the seventh team in MLS history to score 70 goals in a season. The club also finished with the fourth-best goal differential (+30) in league history. Atlanta United also broke several MLS attendance records on Sunday night, including the highest single-season average attendance (48,200) and highest total home attendance (819,404).

“If we couldn’t finish second, it was important that we finished third or fourth and make sure that we play that play-in game here,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We know the atmosphere. We created it here at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and we’re looking forward to it now. All of our attention, all of our focus and all of our energy from here on out goes into every game as it comes. We now wait to see if we play Wednesday or Thursday – whatever day it is. We’re going to be ready and we know the fans are going to be ready.”

Asad opened the scoring in the 31st minute from a penalty kick. The play was called back from video review and ultimately ruled that Drew Moor had a handball inside of the penalty area moments earlier. Asad beat Alex Bono with a shot to the lower right corner.

Jozy Altidore equalized in 60′ minute, snapping Brad Guzan’s shutout streak at 541 minutes – sixth longest in MLS history. After a turnover and a long ball forward, Altidore beat a converging Michael Parkhurst and Guzan to the ball and tapped it into the back of the net.

Atlanta regained the lead in the 74th minute from Martinez. Miguel Almiron shifted the field by playing a ball out wide right for Villalba, who then sent a cross into the box for Martinez, who had made his run to the near post. The Venezuelan one-touched his shot-from the sharpest of angles past Bono to the far post. But that 2-1 lead was nullified by a Sebastian Giovinco free-kick. The Italian international sent a howler over the wall and curled it in the top corner netting past Guzan to draw level 2-2.

Atlanta United finished the regular season with a record of 15-9-10 (55 points) and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll host Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round on either Wednesday, Oct. 25 or Thursday, Oct. 26.

 

-Jon J.

*Photos courtesy of ATLUTD

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