Atlanta United 2 drew 0-0 with Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in a match which saw each team have a player sent off in the first half. Paul Christensen matched his season-high with four saves to help ATL UTD 2 post its first clean sheet of the season and snap a five-match road losing streak. It was the first time Tampa Bay was held scoreless at home since the start of the 2017 season.
“I’m happy with our group and pleased to get our first clean sheet of the season,” said ATL UTD 2 head coach Scott Donnelly. “With our playing style, we have to be good in one-v-one defending moments as well as organized in transition, and some of the work we have done is starting to show up. A definite step forward, a good point and a to do it with 10 men against a dangerous attacking team is progress.”
Atlanta came out the aggressor in the early going and had a pair of scoring opportunities inside the first 20 minutes. Midfielder Laurent Kissiedou nearly scored in the third minute when he ripped a left-footed shot from the right side of the penalty area that missed wide right. ATL UTD 2 again almost took the lead in the 16th minute off a free kick into the 18-yard box from Jose Carranza. AJ Cochran headed the cross toward the center of goal where Andrew Kendall-Moullin flicked the ball on frame, but Tampa Bay’s goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald blocked the shot and the play ended with a foul by Atlanta.
ATL UTD 2’s momentum was checked after defender Will Crain was sent off for being shown his second yellow card of the match in the 40′ following a foul on Joe Cole. Tampa Bay’s one-man advantage, however, was short-lived after the Rowdies’ Marcel Schafer was given a straight red card for violent conduct on Oliver Shannon in the 44′.
A 10 v 10 second half presented a more defensive-minded Atlanta side while Tampa ripped nine of its 13 total shots. Christensen was called into action multiple times and denied Tampa Bay’s Leo Fernandes twice in the final eight minutes of the match to preserve the result. In the 82′, Christensen made a diving save on his near post to his right which led to a corner kick that was ultimately cleared. Minutes later in the 86′, Fernandes took a touch behind Atlanta’s defense for a one-on-one opportunity, but Christensen rushed out to block the attempt.
Atlanta almost stole the three points in the first minute of stoppage time after Carranza served a ball into the box from the left side that found the head of Devon Sandoval. However, the forward’s header missed just inches wide of the left post.
ATL UTD 2 (2-6-4, 10 points) returns to action Saturday, June 9 against Indy Eleven at 7:00 p.m. EST at Lucas Oil Stadium. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.