Atlanta United earns draw with Miami

Atlanta United and Inter Miami played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale.
Atlanta United and Inter Miami played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale.

Credit: MLS

Credit: MLS

Atlanta United was mostly outplayed but earned a valuable point in a 1-1 draw with Miami on Wednesday.

A goal by Brek Shea in the 80th minute was matched by Jake Mulraney’s first this season for Atlanta United on an assist by Jurgen Damm after a fine run through Miami’s defense in the 83rd minute.

“It was really important that we bounced back the way we did,” interim manager Stephen Glass said. “Quality-wise, we were off our normal game tonight. Lost a goal. We saw a little bit of spirit. Delighted to get a point, delighted with spirit of the group.”

Shea, who played for Atlanta United last season, scored on a half-volley at the back post. It was his second goal this season against his former club.

Mulraney, unmarked at the back post, tapped in Damm’s pass. It was the Five Stripes' (5-9-4) first goal in 193 minutes. The shot was Atlanta United’s second overall and first on goal in the game. Miami took with 21 shots, six on target, through 90 minutes.

“We knew that it was an important game, practically a playoff game,” Damm said.

With the draw, Atlanta United stayed in 10th place, which is the final playoff spot, with five games remaining. It stays one point ahead of Miami, which is in 12th. Atlanta United will play at Toronto on Sunday. Atlanta United trails eighth-place Nashville by two points and is ahead of 13th-place Cincinnati by three points.

“We get one and they don’t get three is just as important,” Glass said.

Atlanta United’s lineup was without Franco Escobar, who sustained an undisclosed injury at an undisclosed time between Monday, when Glass was asked about injuries and said there were no new ones, and Wednesday. Glass said Escobar was dealing with something that happened during the loss to Red Bulls and they were hoping he could recover and play. Also out was Marcelino Moreno, the team’s only healthy Designated Player because Ezequiel Barco missed his seventh consecutive match because he too has sustained an undisclosed injury that the team refuses to divulge. In were goalkeeper Brad Guzan, centerbacks Miles Robinson and Anton Walkes, fullbacks Brooks Lennon and George Bello, midfielders Jeff Larentowicz, making his seventh consecutive start, Eric Remedi, Manuel Castro, Emerson Hyndman and Jon Gallagher, and striker Adam Jahn.

Unlike Atlanta United’s injuries, what wasn’t a mystery was that Inter Miami was going to try to get the ball to Gonzalo Higuain.

The former standout at Juventus, Real Madrid and Chelsea, in his first game against Atlanta United, came close in the sixth minute to giving Miami a lead when he squared up and shot from 12 yards. Guzan made the save and was able to pounce on the loose ball just before Higuain could follow.

A Robinson block of Higuain saved Atlanta United in the 14th minute.

Robinson stopped Higuain again in the 19th minute with a brave sliding tackle in which it appeared the got the ball just as his trailing leg took out the Argentinian, who screamed for a penalty kick.

Higuain completed his hat trick of close misses with a free kick that went just wide in the 24th minute.

Miami had 10 shots against Atlanta United’s 0 thorough 30 minutes.

Matias Pellegrini got past Lennon on the back post but put his shot high and wide in the 54th minute.

Glass subbed on Mo Adams and Damm for Castro and Larentowicz in the 57th minute.

Atlanta United’s first shot came in the 66th minute on a looping header from Walkes that sailed over the goal.

Shea was able to get past Lennon to the back post. Lennon appeared to suffer an injury a few minutes before the deciding play. He returned to the field and was about to subbed off when Shea scored.

“From that point on, you saw what we should be,” Glass said. “If we can take approach from the start of the game we’ve been over this ground before.”

The tying goal happened with Erick Torres coming back to the ball, receiving it, spinning and putting Damm through to run at Miami’s goal. Damm cut back past a sliding Nicolas Figal and then passed it to the open Mulraney.

Mulraney said he wasn’t nervous when he saw an open goal in front of him.

“I trust myself enough to be able to score a goal like that,” he said.

Now Atlanta United must try to defeat a Toronto team that is atop the East and competing for the top seed.

“The guys knew the game was massive tonight,” Glass said. “To me, they looked like a group that was playing within themselves, sometimes even a little fear. Later on, when the game was truly on the line and we had to score a goal, you saw the true colors of the team. That’s important to me.”

Atlanta United upcoming games

Sunday at Toronto (6-2-4) in Hartford, Conn., 7:30 p.m., FSSE

Oct. 24 vs. D.C. United (2-5-5), 4 p.m., FSSE

Oct. 28 at Orlando (6-2-4), 7:30 p.m., FS1

Nov. 1 vs. Cincinnati (3-6-3), 7 p.m., FSSE

Nov. 8 at Columbus (8-1-3), 3:30 p.m., FSSE

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