Atlanta United played to a 2-2 draw against New York City FC Wednesday night before 42,557 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Nick Firmino scored a 95th-minute equalizing goal in his MLS debut to earn Atlanta a point while Tyler Wolff scored his fourth goal of the season. Firmino and Luke Brennan both made their MLS debuts as second half substitutes after signing Short-Term Agreements from the club’s MLS NEXT Pro side, Atlanta United 2. Four Homegrowns started for Atlanta United and six appeared in the match, both setting club records for the most in an MLS match. The club extended its unbeaten streak to seven matches, its longest stretch since the 2018 season.

Atlanta United forward Machop Chol #30 dribbles the ball during the match against New York City FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United)

Trailing a goal deep in stoppage time, Atlanta pushed for the match-leveler. Machop Chol received a pass out wide on the right and found the run of Brooks Lennon toward the end line. Lennon chipped the ball into the center of the penalty area where Firmino stood on the edge of the six-yard box and headed the ball down, sending it bouncing into the left side of the net and igniting the raucous crowd. It was Firmino’s first MLS goal and his ninth in 2023, as the Brazilian leads ATL UTD 2 with eight goals in MLS NEXT Pro.

New York City FC started the match quickly, taking the lead in the opening minute. Keaton Parks found Gabriel Pereira in space on the right side as the Brazilian dribbled into the box and fired a low shot that curled inside the far post.

Atlanta responded quickly as a trio of Homegrowns combined to produce the equalizer in the 11th minute. Wolff received the ball on the right flank where he turned towards goal and played a short pass to Caleb Wiley, who quickly back-heeled it to Jay Fortune making a run into the box. A sliding challenge brought Fortune down, but the ball fell directly to Wolff who fired a shot on goal from a tight angle. The shot deflected off goalkeeper Luis Barraza and into the net, which made for Wolff’s fourth goal in MLS play and his fifth across all competitions.

It shows that Atlanta, the system, that we can produce guys and compete in this league. I’m just proud of the guys. It’s good to see and it’s good for the league to have that.”

Tyler Wolff on how if felt to have six homegrowns playing tonight

Wolff nearly scored his second of the night in the 24th minute. Wiley made a run down the left side and delivered a low cross to the back post perfectly weighted for an onrushing Wolff inside the six-yard box, but he mistimed his sliding attempt and it bounced away from goal and to the feet of Fortune, whose follow-up was blocked.

New York City regained the lead in the 56th minute when Pereira scored his second of the night. Richard Ledezma gathered a loose ball outside of Atlanta’s penalty area and played Pereira into the box where he finished a 1-on-1 opportunity against Brad Guzan.

Atlanta pushed for another equalizer but struggled to threaten Barraza’s goal throughout most of the second half. Brennan and Firmino checked into the match in the 87th minute and provided a spark in the attack before the Brazilian delivered the crucial goal to split the points.

Atlanta United (7-4-8, 29 points) returns to action when it travels to face New York Red Bulls on Saturday, June 24 at Red Bull Arena (7:30 p.m. EDT, MLS Season Pass, 92.9 The Game, La Mejor).

-Jon Jones

Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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