Atlanta United battle to a 2-2 draw with Nashville SC

Atlanta United earned a hard-fought point in Nashville after drawing 2-2 with Nashville SC. A long list of starters were missing from the squad, a host of new faces made appearances, and Anton Walkes and Jackson Conway provided the team’s goals (and Conway’s first in MLS).

Between injuries and national team duties, the starting XI for Atlanta United had a refreshed look to it. Alec Kann got the start at goalkeeper for the first time since 2018 while Alex De John and Machop Chol made their first-ever starts for the club. Anton Walkes wore the captain’s armband for the first time in his career in Atlanta.

Atlanta United wasted no time in attack in the opening minutes. Jake Mulraney stepped up to take a set piece from about 35 yards out. The free kick found newly-minted captain Anton Walkes at the far post who headed the ball across the face of goal, beating Nashville’s Joe Willis.

Nashville SC responded in the 14′ minute with a set piece of their own. From a corner kick, Jalil Anibaba was left unmarked in the box and headed in the tying goal.

Atlanta United forward Machop Chol #30 dribbles the ball during the match against Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday July 8, 2021. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

The struggles for Cubo Torres continued tonight. On a Nashville corner kick, Torres was called for a handball inside the penalty area. Hany Mukhtar stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty try. Torres got off easy with a yellow card as the handball looked blatant, which could’ve easily resulted in a red.

In the 59′ minute, from a Marcelino Moreno corner kick, Jackson Conway found space at the far post and headed the ball past the keeper to draw the game level once again. After being questioned multiple times after the match, he did admit his feelings about starting. “Yeah, yeah, I think I should start. Based off of the performance tonight and how I’m a different player than Cubo and Josef… but ultimately that’s up to Gabbe.”

As fate would have it, Atlanta would end up with a red card after all. Jake Mulraney saw red in the 74′ minute when he tackled Nashville’s Mukhtar from behind. The tackle looked clean and he made clear contact with the ball, but video review confirmed the Mulraney’s ejection.

With 10 players already missing in action, Jake Mulraney, Mo Adams, and Santiago Sosa have been added to that list due to a red card, injury, and yellow card accumulation, respectively.

“We are disappointed in a way. The way we started off, scoring a goal, for it to go how it did,” Anton Walkes said after the match. “But due to the change of events and how the game ended, we have to be happy with how we ended the game as a group.”

Atlanta United will host the New England Revolution next Saturday, July 17 at 5:00pm ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

-Jon J.

Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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