Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon #11 kicks the ball during the preseason match against Toluca FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday February 15, 2023. (Photo by Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United)

Atlanta United played to a 1-1 draw vs. Toronto FC Saturday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of a crowd of 42,817 fans. Matheus Rossetto scored his first goal for the club while Thiago Almada registered his first assist this season. Giorgos Giakoumakis also made his club debut when he entered the game as a substitute in the second half.

Atlanta United dominated the match from the outset and nearly scored in the seventh minute. Homegrown Caleb Wiley won a ball in the attacking third and found Miguel Berry down the left side where the Spaniard’s shot went just wide of the left post and into the side netting.

Andrew Gutman saw a shot from distance in the 27th minute narrowly pick out the top corner, but drifted just wide. Miles Robinson had a chance from a corner but it lifted over the crossbar in the 30th minute. Rossetto produced the team’s two shots on target in the first half. One was a deflected shot in the 35th minute and another from distance in the 41st that called Toronto FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson into action. Just before the half ended, Juanjo Purata had a free header off a corner that was lifted inches over the crossbar in the first minute of stoppage time.

Toronto took the lead in the 52nd minute. Michael Bradley found Federico Bernardeschi in space down the right side. The Italian forward dribbled towards the penalty area and ripped a left-footed shot from the edge of the box that snuck inside the near post to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.

Atlanta pushed for the equalizer and brought on Giakoumakis and Derrick Etienne Jr. in the 59th minute. Within a minute of their introductions, Atlanta United leveled the match through Rossetto. Etienne Jr. one-timed a cross on the left side of the box to Thiago Almada who was near the penalty spot. The Argentine took one touch before playing it back to Rossetto as he was charging in from the midfield. The Brazilian’s shot from distance took a deflection and bounced into the net to set the score at 1-1 in the 60th minute.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium erupted in the 77th minute when Giakoumakis appeared to score. Almada gathered a partially cleared corner, created space to evade a defender, and get the ball on his favored right foot before chipping a ball to the back post for Purata. The Mexican defender headed the ball off the right post and Giakoumakis buried the rebound into the net. The play would be called back as Purata was ruled to be offside on the initial ball.

Atlanta’s best chance to win the match came in the 81st minute. Almada sprayed a ball out wide to Luiz Araujo on the left side where he delivered a cross to Andrew Gutman who made a run toward the near post. Gutman one-timed his shot on frame, but again Johnson came up big to push it away and preserve the draw.

Atlanta United returns to action when it travels to face Charlotte FC on March 11 at Bank of America Stadium (12:00 p.m., MLS Season Pass/FOX, 92.9 The Game, La Mejor). All Atlanta United matches are available with an MLS Season Pass subscription on the Apple TV app.

-Jon Jones

Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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