Edwin Mosquera scores first goal but Atlanta United falls to Cincinnati

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan #1 defends the net during the match against Cincinnati FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday August 30, 2023. (Photo by Kathryn Skeean/Atlanta United)

Credit: Kathryn Skeean/Atlanta United

Credit: Kathryn Skeean/Atlanta United

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan #1 defends the net during the match against Cincinnati FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday August 30, 2023. (Photo by Kathryn Skeean/Atlanta United)

Atlanta United failed to win its third consecutive match, falling 2-1 to Cincinnati, the best team in MLS, on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Edwin Mosquera’s first goal as a professional was offset by second-half goals from Luciano Acosta, who has a history of heroics against Atlanta United, and Brandon Vazquez in front of an announced attendance of 42,568.

Acosta’s goal snapped Atlanta United’s shutout streak at 285 minutes in league play. Vazquez, who played for Atlanta United from 2017-19, scored a few minutes later. The goals were deserved. Cincinnati controlled long portions of the match against an Atlanta United team that looked fatigued at times because it was playing its third match in 11 days.

“It was a tale of two halves,” captain and goalkeeper Brad Guzan said.

Cincinnati clinched a playoff berth with the win. Atlanta United (11-8-8) stayed in sixth place in the East. It is three points from third place. Atlanta United will play at Dallas on Saturday.

Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda was suspended for the match because he received his third yellow card this season in last week’s match against Nashville. Assistant Diego de la Torre managed Wednesday’s match. For the first time this season, the team used the same lineup for the third consecutive match. It was composed of striker Giorgos Giakoumakis, wingers Xande Silva and Mosquera, attacking midfielder Thiago Amalda, central midfielders Tristan Muyumba and Matheus Rossetto, fullbacks Caleb Wiley and Brooks Lennon, centerbacks Miles Robinson, who earlier Wednesday was called into the U.S. men’s national team camp for two upcoming friendlies, and Luis Abram, and Guzan.

Almada ignited the crowd when his 30-yard free kick bounced off the left post and out in the eighth minute.

No matter.

Mosquera gave Atlanta United a 1-0 lead two minutes when he slammed a close-range volley with his right foot. It was the first goal that Mosquera has scored as a professional. It came in his 84th appearance. The sequence started with Lennon crossing to Silva, who somehow was able to control the ball with his back turned to the goal. He turned to his left and played in a shot/cross that was deflected. The ball went to Mosquera.

“I got the ball and saw the rebound and just went and got it,” he said.

Atlanta United held off Cincinnati’s eight shots in the first half to extend its shutout streak to 255 minutes in league play. Atlanta United created just two chances in the first half, both by Wiley. Cincinnati created seven.

A Silva goal in the 51st minute was called back by referee Armando Villarreal because of a foul by Giakoumakis in the seconds before the shot.

The flow of the match started to change with Cincinnati dictating the terms. The visitors kept at least two players higher up the pitch, inviting Atlanta United to attack. Had Atlanta United’s players continued to pass and move, as they did in the first half, it may have been able to maintain control. Instead, de la Torre said the players dribbled too much and didn’t interchange positions to fill empty spaces.

“We start doing things that we never do,” he said. “And for me, that was the real problem.”

Saba Lobjanidze was subbed on for Mosquera in the 58th minute.

Guzan dove to his left to save a low, hard shot in the 60th minute and preserve Atlanta United’s 1-0 lead. It was his first save.

Acosta pulled Cincinnati level with a half-volley in the 75th minute. The goal was the result of a very skilled give and go with Junior Moreno, who received the ball and played it with his head to Acosta near the top of the 18-yard box. It ended Atlanta United’s scoreless streak at 285 minutes. It was Acosta’s seventh goal in his 14th appearance against Atlanta United.

Vazquez scored on a tap-in of a cross in the 80th minute. Cincinnati had been attacking Atlanta United’s flanks over and over and finally got its reward when a ball was played into the mouth of a goal for Vazquez to run on to. The play started with a turnover by Atlanta United.

“Once they get the ball, they’re quick, they already have an idea,” Wiley said. “And so they kind of got us on that.”

Tyler Wolff came on for Rossetto in the 86th minute as Atlanta United searched for the tying goal.

Cincinnati outshot Atlanta United 16-9, and put more shots on goal, 4-1. It was the 13th time this season that Cincinnati won by one goal. It was also the first time since Sept. 15, 2019 that Atlanta United lost a game that it led at halftime.

“Think you saw in the first half we were playing like ourselves, we were playing with our identity, we were able to build out with 1-2 passes,” Wiley said. “I’m sure it was fun to watch and then once they scored and then the whole momentum changed. We started doing things that we shouldn’t have been doing. We should have kept this simple. Make them move around with just quick passes. But we started keeping the ball on our foot too long and mistakes were coming.”

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1

March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0

March 18 Atlanta United 5, Portland 1

March 25 Columbus 6, Atlanta United 1

April 1 Atlanta United 1, New York Red Bulls 0

April 8 Atlanta United 1, New York City FC 1

April 15 Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 2

April 23 Atlanta United 2, Chicago 1

April 29 Nashville SC 3, Atlanta United 1

May 6 Inter Miami CF 2, Atlanta United 1

May 13 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1

May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0

May 20 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 3

May 27 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

May 31 Atlanta United 3, New England 3

June 7 Atlanta United 0, LAFC 0

June 10 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 1

June 21 Atlanta United 2, New York City 2

June 24 New York Red Bulls 4, Atlanta United 0

July 2 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 0

July 8 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

July 12 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

July 15 Orlando City 2, Atlanta United 1

July 25 Miami 4, Atlanta United 0 in Leagues Cup

July 29 Cruz Azul 1 (5), Atlanta United (4) 1 in Leagues Cup

Aug. 20 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 0

Aug. 26 Atlanta United 4, Nashville 0

Aug. 30 FC Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 2 at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Sept. 16 vs. Inter Miami CF, 5 p.m.

Sept. 20 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 23 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 at FC Cincinnati, TBA