Atlanta United gives up two-goal lead in draw with Philadelphia

Team moves into tie for seventh place in the MLS Eastern Conference

Atlanta United gave up a two-goal lead late to finish with a 2-2 draw against Philadelphia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

For the second consecutive game, Atlanta United gave up a two-goal lead late to finish with a 2-2 draw against Philadelphia Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Four valuable points dropped by a team that at one point was difficult to even draw at home.

“We deserved more,” Atlanta United manager Gabriel Heinze said.

The draw came with the team playing without striker Josef Martinez, who is with the Venezuelan men’s national team in the Copa America, and midfielder Emerson Hyndman, who is out for the season because of a right knee injury.

Atlanta United’s goals came from an own-goal caused by a header from Miles Robinson in the 58th minute, and a header by Anton Walkes in the 83rd minute. It finished with a season-high 20 shots, putting six on goal.

But, as Heinze put it, the team needed to score one more because it gave up two.

Philadelphia’s goals came from Cory Burke in the 84th minute and a wonder strike by Jakob Glesnes in the 93rd minute.

The result was just like Atlanta United’s previous game three weeks ago against Nashville. In that, the team gave up goals in the 80th and 83rd minute to go into the international break with two points dropped instead of three won.

Two games ago, the team was 34-2-3 when leading at home in the 75th minute. It’s now 34-2-5. Perhaps more worrisome to the team’s supporters, Atlanta United has had a lead in the second half of four of its six draws (across all competitions) this year.

“We are very, very disappointed not to get three points tonight,” fullback Brooks Lennon said. “Up 2-0, just like our last match. Less than 10 minutes to go. Disappointed to drop three points, when you are looking at it from a higher lens, the overall performance was good.”

With the draw, Atlanta United is 2-1-5 and moved into a tied for seventh place in the Eastern Conference in front of an announced attendance of 42,523. It will play at NYCFC on Wednesday.

Atlanta United used a starting lineup composed of striker Erick Torres, midfielders Marcelino Moreno, Ezequiel Barco, Franco Ibarra, Erik Lopez and Santiago Sosa, fullbacks Lennon and George Bello, centerbacks Robinson and Walkes, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Atlanta United’s first goal was charged to Philadelphia’s Kacper Przybylko, who was trying to defend Robinson on a corner kick in the 58th minute. Robinson got a touch with the top of his head. The ball then went off Przybylko and into the lower right corner. The corner kick was won after a shot by Moreno was deflected out of bounds. Moreno was played into space by Torres.

Lopez stayed down after a late tackle by Kai Wagner in the 64th minute. After being seen by medical personnel, he returned to the game. Referee Ted Unkel didn’t review the play for a possible penalty committed by Wagner. Heinze said that Unkel told him the play was reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee, who deemed no foul was committed.

Alan Franco came on in the 70th minute for Ibarra. With that move, Sosa moved into Ibarra’s role and the team played with three true centerbacks. It’s a tactic Heinze said the team worked on this week. The team did this once before this season when the team was protecting a lead. That happened in the first game against when Heinze brought on George Campbell with the team protecting a 1-0 lead.

It worked then.

It didn’t on Sunday.

Atlanta United increased its lead to 2-0 on a header by Walkes from a corner kick in the 83rd minute. Walkes outjumped his defender to put the ball in just under the crossbar. Lennon, who hit several quality passes, got the assist, as did Barco. It was the first for each this season in league games. It was Walkes’ third goal as an Atlanta United player but first this season.

Philadelphia immediately responded with a goal by Burke. Guzan saved the first shot but Burke reacted quicker than Atlanta United’s players to reach the loose ball.

The tying goal came when Glesnes, who wasn’t closed down by any Atlanta United player despite being in the middle of the field, fired a rocket into the upper right corner of Guzan’s goal. The ball hit the underside of the post, bounced in front of the goal line before eventually the spin rolled it into the goal for the deflating draw.

Heinze said he will take responsibility for the goal. He said the team worked during the week on not allowing the player in that position to shoot or pass.

Some boos could be heard when the final whistle was blown.

“In a soccer game, both teams are going to have chances,” Lennon said. “They were able to capitalize on their chances. Their second goal, some people can call it a lucky shot but we didn’t put pressure on him.

“Hopefully, next time we have a two-goal lead we can keep it.”

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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 at NYCFC (at Red Bull Arena), TBD, BSSO/BSSE

June 27 vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at Chicago, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 8 at Nashville, 8:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. New England, 5 p.m., ESPN

July 21 at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., FS1

July 24 vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., ABC

July 30 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN

Aug. 4 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 7 at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 15 vs. LAFC, 4 p.m. ESPN

Aug. 18 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at D.C. United, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

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