Atlanta United ties Sporting KC in final moments


Atlanta United ties Sporting KC in final moments

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Alex Holt
Atlanta United forward Hector Villalba has 10 goals on the season.

As chants of “I believe that we will win” echoed around Children’s Mercy Park, Jacob Peterson came back to bite his old team and score in injury time to lift Atlanta United to a 1-1 tie with Sporting KC on Sunday.

It was the second consecutive week that Atlanta United scored a tying goal in the final minutes after Hector Villalba did so last week in a 1-1 draw with Orlando City.

This time, Peterson, who played at Sporting KC from 2012-16 before signing with Atlanta United as a free agent, ran onto a ball from Brandon Vazquez and scored from 6 yards out.  It was Peterson’ first game back since suffering an injury in the warmups before Montreal.

Sporting KC grabbed its lead in the 58th minute on a penalty kick by Benny Feilhaber. The penalty was the result of Latif Blessing being taken down in the box by Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. It looked as if Blessing may have dove after Pirez shouldered him off the ball, but referee Chris Penso quickly pointed to the spot. VAR made its debut this weekend, but Penso made no move as if he wanted to go to the monitor and review the call.

The game featured Atlanta United’s league-leading offense (41 goals) against Sporting KC’s league-leading defense (17 goals allowed). Instead of consistent moments of good play, neither team could maintain possession in a game that was as sloppy with its play and its officiating as a plate of Kansas City’s famed barbecue.

Atlanta United (10-7-5) will have more two weeks off before it next plays at D.C. United on Aug. 23 and then at Philadelphia on Aug. 26.

Playing without striker injured striker Josef Martinez for the third consecutive game, and left fullback Greg Garza, who suffered a separated shoulder during the MLS All-Star game in Chicago last week, Atlanta United’s offense couldn’t get on track, particularly down the left where Mikey Ambrose was in for Garza.

Miguel Almiron, who played the second half of the All-Star game against Real Madrid and was arguably his team’s best player, only had a few bright moments and didn’t seem to have the same burst of speed he has shown in previous games. Michael Parkhurst, who also played the second half in Chicago, didn’t show any fatigue on Saturday.

Those issues, combined with Sporting KC’s discipline on defense, stifled Atlanta United for most of the game. The Five Stripes had just one shot on goal through 85 minutes.

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