Playing with its three Designated Players for the second time this season and with a man advantage for the final 17 minutes, Atlanta United could only earn a 2-2 draw at Montreal on Wednesday.
The draw, earned with goals by Josef Martinez and Marcelino Moreno, was morale-boosting because the Five Stripes rallied from two goals down. But the club remains winless in 12 and still trails Montreal by eight points for the seventh and final playoff spot in the MLS Eastern Conference.
The game also saw Martinez earn a red card after pushing away Victor Wanyama, who put his hands on Martinez’s throat, in the 82nd minute. Wanyama was also given a red card. Montreal had already been reduced to 10 men because of a red card given to Rudy Camacho in the 73rd minute. Interim manager Rob Valentino said he didn’t want to comment on the red card.
Martinez will miss Atlanta United’s (2-6-9) game at Columbus on Saturday, which will make the club’s uphill playoff climb even more difficult.
“It’s really disappointing that we won’t have him,” Valentino said. “As a group we have to stay together.”
Atlanta United was fortunate to earn the draw because a Montreal shot bounced off the crossbar in the 89th minute.
Credit: Paul Chiasson
Credit: Paul Chiasson
Interim manager Rob Valentino used an attacking lineup that included striker Martinez, attacking midfielder Moreno and Ezequiel Barco, in his first start since returning from the Olympics where he competed with Argentina, Santiago Sosa and Amar Sejdic centrally, along with wingbacks of Ronald Hernandez and George Bello, in his first appearance since starting for the U.S. in its Gold Cup-winning match against Mexico. Alan Franco, Anton Walkes and George Campbell, making his second league start, were the centerbacks, with Brad Guzan in goal in his first start since also returning from the Gold Cup.
Montreal took a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute on a goal by Mason Toye, who got between Campbell and Franco at the top of the penalty box. He was played in by centerback Kamal Miller, who was unchallenged by Martinez on what should have been an aerial duel of a goal kick by Guzan. Instead, Miller brought the ball down, dribbled without a defender picking him up for 20 yards, and then passed it Joaquin Torres, who passed it to Toye, who hadn’t been closed down by Campbell or Franco.
Montreal increased its lead to 2-0 on a goal by Camacho in the 63rd minute. Camacho was left unmarked at the back post on a corner kick because it appeared that Bello was trying to communicate with his teammates about who was marking who.
“Markers had changed,” Valentino said. “Someone was free that shouldn’t have been free.”
Atlanta United answered two minutes later with another thunderous strike by Martinez. It was his second goal in as many games. Wednesday’s was similar to the one scored against Orlando: a right-footed curler from the top of the box into the near side. The play was set up after an aggressive run by Barco and smart pass to his right to Martinez. It was Martinez’s fourth goal and Barco’s second assist this season.
Valentino brought on Jurgen Damm and Matheus Rossetto for Hernandez and Sejdic in the 68th minute.
Moreno tied the game in the 75th minute with a successful penalty kick, won by Martinez. The foul also resulted in a red card against Camacho. The play started with Moreno dribbling at the center of Montreal’s defense before he passed it to his right to Martinez, who was run over by Camacho. It was Moreno’s team-leading fifth goal this season.
“Even before the first goal, the second goal, we were creating chances” Guzan said. “We were playing positive soccer. In that sense, it was OK, it was good.”
Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2 (match statistics)
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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 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 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
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
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