Atlanta United misses chance for points in late draw vs. Toronto

Atlanta United midfielder Marcelino Moreno #10 dribbles the ball during the match against Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday October 30, 2021. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Atlanta United midfielder Marcelino Moreno #10 dribbles the ball during the match against Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday October 30, 2021. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Atlanta United isn’t learning lessons.

For the second time in three games an opponent scored in the game’s final minutes to earn a draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. On Saturday it was outmanned Toronto that scored a goal in the 88th minute to take a 1-1 draw in a game that Atlanta United should have put away long before. Two games ago, NYCFC earned a 1-1 draw on a free kick from an unnecessary foul, also in the final minutes. Atlanta United has missed on 13 points this season when leading games at the 75th minute.

“We can’t concede and that’s happened numerous times over the course of the season, where we’ve conceded in the last 10 minutes,” centerback Miles Robinson said. “And it’s so frustrating. But it’s one of those things we just have to try to bounce back from. We play in three days, and it’s over now.”

Atlanta United’s goal was scored by Luiz Araujo, who was left with a tap-in after stealing the ball from Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg in the first half.

Atlanta United took 19 shots, but put only four on goal. It created 15 chances. Toronto took 11 shots but put eight on goal. It created nine chances.

The draw increased Atlanta United’s points total to 47, but may have cost the team an opportunity to finish among the top four seeds in the playoffs, which will get to host at least one playoff game. The draw also put even the chances of the team in the playoffs in some jeopardy. Atlanta United can earn six more points, starting Wednesday at the Red Bulls and ending Sunday at Cincinnati.

The draw came in front of an announced attendance of 43,372, which guaranteed that the team would finish with the highest average regular-season attendance for the fifth consecutive season.

Manager Gonzalo Pineda selected his strongest 11. Josef Martinez started at striker, with Ezequiel Barco and Araujo flanking him. The midfield was composed of Marcelino Moreno and Matheus Rossetto. The wingbacks were Brooks Lennon and George Bello. The centerbacks were Robinson, Anton Walkes and Alan Franco with Brad Guzan in goal.

Atlanta United took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute. Westberg tried to cut back with the ball to his left as Araujo was applying pressure from the same direction. Araujo stole the ball and tapped it into the net from six feet out for his fourth goal this season. Atlanta United was 11-2-5 this season when it scored first.

After that goal, which came after a slow start, Atlanta United began to increase its pressure and peppered Westberg’s goal with crosses and shots. It finished with 10 shots taken in the half, with three put on goal. The team created eight chances.

Martinez, who took four shots in the first half, missed an open goal in the 50th minute after being played in by Lennon, who hit a perfect cross on a line seven yards from Toronto’s goal. Toronto’s defenders, and Westberg, had shifted to their left toward Lennon, leaving Martinez open on a run to the back post.

A goal by Barco was taken back because of offside in the 55th minute. Barco received a yellow card because he took off his jersey after watching his curling chip nestle into the goal before he learned that the assistant referee had raised his flag for offside. Barco said the only explanation he received was someone was offside on the play.

“That’s true; we’re not closing the games early enough,” Barco said. “I‘m missing some chances, which are costly. We need to be better finishing those chances we have.”

Atlanta United’s expected goal stat was up to 2.3, according to, illustrating the chances that it had failed to capitalize on through 60 minutes. It finished at 2.6 to Toronto’s 0.9.

For the game, Martinez, Araujo and Barco combined to take 11 shots but put just three on goal, including the goal.

“It was an atypical day for our forwards,” PIneda said.

As Atlanta United wasted chances, Toronto, already eliminated from qualifying for the playoffs and with nothing to play for other than pride, began to apply pressure as it searched for the tying goal. The situation was similar to the past two games against NYCFC and Miami. Miami was twice denied by excellent saves late by Guzan to lose 2-1. But the saves were required because of poor decisions by Atlanta United players. Closing out games is something that Atlanta United has focused on.

But it didn’t happen. Again.

“The game plan worked,” Pineda said. “It’s about not scoring that second goal.”

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0

July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2

Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2

Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2

Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0

Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto 0

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1

Aug. 28 Nashville 2, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 3, Orlando 0

Sept. 15 Atlanta United 4, Cincinnati 0

Sept. 18 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Sept. 25 Philadelphia 1, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 29 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 0

Oct. 2 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

Oct. 16 Atlanta United 2, Toronto 0

Oct. 20 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

Oct. 27 Atlanta United 2, Miami 1

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE