Atlanta United earns crucial point against Philadelphia Union in quest for playoff spot

Atlanta United played to a scoreless draw against Philadelphia Union Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 42,521 fans. Atlanta didn’t allow a shot on goal and held Philadelphia to its lowest expected goals mark of the season (0.16) while putting six shots on frame in the second half, but ultimately couldn’t find the decisive goal. The draw keeps Atlanta’s playoff hopes alive as the club is one point below the line at the conclusion of today’s slate of MLS matches.

Atlanta United produced a few threatening chances in the first half, but neither side put a shot on goal. In the 19th minute, Juanjo Purata’s header from a corner was lifted just over the bar, while Thiago Almada’s shot from distance in the 20th minute had the pace to beat the goalkeeper, but flew wide of the right post.

Atlanta had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 50th minute. Luiz Araújo played a cross to Brooks Lennon on the right side of the box where Lennon brought the ball down and put a shot on frame. His attempt was saved by Andre Blake but remained in play, as Dom Dwyer was on the doorstep to tap it home, but Jakob Glesnes slid across goal to block the shot which was eventually gathered by Blake.

Gonzalo Pineda made a pair of substitutions in the 68th minute, bringing on Edwin Mosquera and Ronaldo Cisneros to go for the late winner. It nearly came in the 73rd minute from Mosquera. The Colombian winger gathered a loose ball outside of Philadelphia’s penalty area and dribbled past his defender before taking aim between a pair of Union players, forcing an acrobatic save from Blake at the top left corner.

Three minutes later, Almada found Amar Sejdić in space 10 yards outside of the Union’s box. Sejdić took a touch and rifled a low shot hit with power, leaving Blake flat-footed, but it rattled off the left post and eventually resulted in a Philadelphia goal kick.

Atlanta’s final opportunity to take all three points came during the second minute of stoppage time. Lennon delivered a cross for Josef Martínez at the back left post where the Venezuelan headed it down on frame, but it bounced into the path of Blake, who was retreating into his goal, as the Jamaican international palmed it away before it was cleared from danger.

Atlanta (10-12-10, 40 points) travels to Foxborough, Massachusetts to face New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 1 (1:30 p.m., UniMás, TUDN, Twitter, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game, La Mejor). 

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