Some good soccer, some promising signs, but still much work to do.
Atlanta United played to a draw on Saturday against FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Unlike several games Atlanta has played this season, this one was full of excitement and promising signs as the end of the regular season looms near.
The starting lineup featured a back three of Alan Franco, Andrew Gutman, and Juan Jose Purata which later shifted to a back four as Gutman and Ronald Hernández took on the role of fullbacks. In midfield, Pineda played Thiago Almada and Marcelino Moreno together down the middle with Santiago Sosa as a single pivot and spearheaded the attack with Ronaldo Cisneros as a lone striker.
Atlanta seemed to be dominating in the early stages of the game, creating numerous chances and hitting the frame of the goal a few times. However, they wouldn't be silenced and found the opening goal when Thiago Almada let a shot fly from outside the box into the top corner of the goal. Atlanta held a 1-0 lead 17 minutes in.
The lead lasted just 12 minutes after a bad turnover close to the box found former Atlanta United player Brandon Vazquez who put it away to score his 15th goal this season. The game was level at 1-1 in the 29th minute.
Atlanta almost managed to get to the end of the half on level terms, but poor set piece defending and some chaos on the goal line allowed the Orange and Blue to take a 2-1 lead in the 41st minute.
The second half saw Atlanta push for the equalizer but found it difficult to break Cincinnati's defense. Despite retaining much of the possession, it was clear that the hosts were in control for the most part and even put up more shots in the second half than Atlanta.
The tying goal wouldn't come until the 83rd minute when Andrew Gutman received a fantastic ball from Josef Martínez inside the box and put it past Roman Celentano to make the game 2-2. Not only did Gutman's goal mean Atlanta would take a point home, but it was also historic according to MLS Communications as the 20,000th goal in MLS history.
After all of Saturday's results, Atlanta sits 13th in the East with 29 points and a game in hand over many of its fellow playoff contenders. The Five Stripes now sit four points from seventh-place Inter Miami and just five points from fifth-place Columbus Crew. Atlanta is now preparing to take on the New York Red Bulls at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday at 7:38 PM.