The Draw that Felt like a Loss: Recapping Atlanta against Toronto

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Miguel Almirón lies on the field as Jozy Altidore complains to the official. (probably bc Jozy throated punched him or something) Credit: Getty Images

Déjà vu all over again in Mercedes Benz Stadium as Atlanta United once again drew with Toronto FC 2-2 Saturday afternoon after getting the same result the previous two times the teams met.

The match caught the attention even before kickoff when Atlanta United manager Tata Martino started a 3-5-2 lineup featuring Jeff Larentowitz in the back three and Kevin Kratz making it into the starting XI.

“The team works on the 3-5-2 regularly in small portions during the season,” Atlanta United captain Michael Parkhurst said. “But ASG players didn’t get as much time working on the shape. Rest of the team worked on it thoroughly during the week.”

The change in formation did not stop Atlanta dominating the first half with possession and shots. However, it was Toronto FC who opened up the scoring from a Giovinco goal coming off a cross in the box from São Paulo FC loanee Auro in extra time of the first half.

Giovinco’s goal would conclude a dominant half for Atlanta United on the field, but not on the scoreboard. The visitors headed into the locker room with a 1-0 lead and trying to hang on for a vital three points as Toronto tries to make a late push for the post season after a historic 2017 campaign.

Right out of the gates for the second half Atlanta United set out on the front foot to level the match, and that is exactly what happened. Impressive play from newly acquired Eric Remedi helped Josef Martinez earn a penalty kick which the Venezuelan would slot home to give him his 25th goal to level the match at 1-1.

Josef Martinez frustrated after team not converting a good chance against Toronto FC. Credit: Getty Images

“Josef is an incredible player,” Atlanta midfielder Eric Remedi said. “We know that if we continue to give him service he’s going to convert.”

And that is exactly what they did. Josef Martinez would score his second goal of the game (slow day at the office, right?) to make it 2-1 and giving him 26 goals on the season. The Venezulean would have to wait to break the all-time-goal-scoring record for another day as he was subbed off in the 80th minute for Romario Williams. Martinez is now one goal away from tying the record of 27 goals in a season.

Greg Vanney and Toronto were determined to grab any result out of Atlanta in order to preserve any last-minute playoff hopes. The Canadain side subbed on attacking minded players late on such as forward Tosaint Ricketts. The substitutions would pay off in a huge way for Toronto as it was Ricketts who sent the ball into the back of the net leveling the score at 2-2 in the first minute of extra time.

“It’s very disappointing because we gave up two goals at the worst point of each half,” Parkhurst said. “We got beat by a through ball on the right and nothing LGP could do about it.”

The match would end 2-2 and feel like two points lost for the Five Stripes as there is little-to-no room for error in a highly contested Supporter’s Shield race. Atlanta will have the week off and will travel to Columbus for another important Eastern Conference showdown with the Crew on August 19th a 4 p.m.

My Man of the Match:

Last game I didn’t give it to Josef, and I won’t this time either. It’s not that I hate Josef Martinez but even when he doesn’t score two goals you still feel like he was the best player. I like to be creative so instead I am going with Eric Remedi this week. He impressed last week in Montreal and repeated it at home. His impressive play pretty much gave Josef Martinez the penalty kick opportunity, so I’ll give him man of the match and an assist from a penalty. (I know that’s not real… I don’t think it is?)

How Did the Staff do?

Dalton: 2-0 Atlanta win(Close but no cigar)

Kyle: 2-0 Atlanta win(Real creative Kyle)

Drew:3-1 (Idk who typed that, I said 2-2 draw)