Atlanta was close to taking three points, but the rivalry ended level.
Atlanta United tied Orlando City SC 1-1 on Sunday in a game that saw one of their more exciting performances in the second half.
The match marked the end of a three-game homestand where they earned four of nine possible points. Atlanta now sits 11th in the East with 24 points in 20 games and just three points from a playoff spot.
The starting lineup was almost the same as the one used Wednesday against Real Salt Lake with the only difference being Luiz Araújo replacing Thiago Almada who was reportedly not feeling well prior to the match.
Orlando opened the score in the 10th minute after Mauricio Pereyra sent a free kick straight into the top corner while Atlanta goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo was still busy setting up the wall on the other side. There was much confusion about this play since it looked like referee Victor Rivas asked Rios Novo if he was ready to which the Argentine keeper raised his hand. Rivas authorized the kick which Orlando converted to make the score 1-0.
With the pressure on at home, the Five Stripes looked for a way back into the game. Alarmingly, none of Atlanta’s main attacking talent managed to put up a shot in the first half.
The second half painted a different picture, however, with Atlanta putting up 15 shots and three big chances. Atlanta equalized in the 71st minute when a Thiago Almada free kick found Juan Jose Sánchez Purata who headed it past Pedro Gallese.
Atlanta kept knocking on the door trying for a winner with Josef Martínez and Dom Dwyer even getting some shots that hit the post. Ultimately, the efforts were not rewarded as the game ended with a final score of 1-1.
Although the team was not able to grab all three points, they did display some encouraging signs. First, the team came back and responded after giving up a goal, something they have not been very good at historically. Second, the defense held really well in this game. The only goal did not come from defensive mistakes as most of Atlanta’s goals in previous games had. Now, the defensive solidity could partially be due to the fact that Orlando was not particularly outgoing in the attack after scoring, but there was a noticeable improvement in players such as Alan Franco and George Campbell who were the usual suspects for defensive errors.
Atlanta’s next game will be Sunday when they visit Los Angeles Galaxy. Kickoff will be at 9:30 PM.