Atlanta United played to a 1-1 draw against Montreal Impact Sunday night at Stade Saputo. Julian Gressel scored in the second half while Montreal found a late equalizer to split the points. With Philadelphia Union’s loss at Columbus Crew SC, Atlanta moved to second place in the Eastern Conference heading into the season finale.
Both sides took time to settle into the match, but Atlanta’s attack got going after Brandon Vazquez took the first shot on target in the 14th minute. Jeff Larentowicz appeared to have scored from a corner kick in the 18th minute when Vazquez headed the initial ball to him inside the six-yard box where he poked the ball across the line, but Larentowicz was ruled to be in an offside position.
Brad Guzan maintained the tie score with a crucial save in the 37th minute. Daniel Lovitz sent in a cross from the left side which fell for Ignacio Piatti. The Argentine quickly found Saphir Taider to his right where he put a low shot on frame, but Guzan made a kick save to keep the match level.
Atlanta took the lead just eight minutes into the second half. Pity Martinez found Gressel streaking towards goal on the right side where the German passed to Emerson Hyndman inside the penalty area. Hyndman skillfully backheeled the ball back to Gressel where he smashed a left-footed shot passed Clement Diop for his fifth goal of the season. It was Hyndman’s third assist of the year.
Martinez came close to doubling Atlanta’s lead in the 71st minute after Gressel intercepted a pass in the defensive third and played Martinez in behind the Impact’s backline. With Martinez and Barco darting towards goal in a two-on-one, Martinez attempted to chip Diop who was off his line, but he lifted his attempt just over the crossbar.
Montreal found the equalizing goal in the 81st minute. Orji Okonkwo sent in a low cross from the right side to the center of the box where Bojan redirected the ball into the bottom left corner.
Tito Villalba appeared to have scored the game-winner in the 84th minute, but it was disallowed by VAR. On a counterattack, Villalba found Ezequiel Barco on the right side of the 18-yard box and where he chipped the ball over Diop, but it rattled off the crossbar. Justin Meram tracked down the loose ball and found Villalba who had his first shot attempt inside the box blocked and then smashed the rebound into the top right corner. However, video review ultimately ruled that Meram was in an offside position on Barco’s initial shot.
Atlanta had a pair of chances to win the match when Barco had a free-kick destined for the top-right corner saved by Diop and Villalba had a curling shot also parried away for a corner that was ultimately cleared.
Shots: 14-10 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 6-4 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 8-5 Montreal
Fouls committed: 12-7 Atlanta
Clearances: 15-13 Atlanta
Offside: 4-0 Atlanta
Possession: 53-47 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 81-81 Tied
Atlanta United (17-12-4, 55 points) returns to action Sunday, Oct. 6 against New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (4:00 p.m. EST, FOX Sports South, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD