TORONTO -- Playing without three starters, and losing another to injury, Atlanta United tied Toronto 2-2 on Saturday at BMO Field with the hosts scoring in the final second to split the points.
Machop Chol scored his first career goal in the 76th minute for Atlanta United. It was preceded by a goal from Giorgos Giakoumakis in the fourth minute for his fourth goal in his fourth consecutive start. He had to leave the game in the opening minutes of the second half with an injury.
Toronto tied the game with the final kick on a goal by Brandon Servania in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Atlanta United is 4-1-3 overall, 1-1-2 on the road and will host Chicago on April 23.
“Very frustrated, upset,” Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “Second time on the road we’re winning and then we concede goals and we cannot reward ourselves with three points because I felt that we did enough to get the three points. But we couldn’t finalize, that’s where we need to learn. But very happy with other things.”
Pineda elected to not include Thiago Almada in the roster because the team doesn’t want to push the playmaker. Almada suffered an undisclosed injury in the final minutes of last week’s 1-1 draw at NYCFC. Almada didn’t return to training until Thursday. He trained on Friday and traveled with the team to Toronto on its charter flight. The only other game Almada missed this season ended with Atlanta United losing 6-1 at Columbus. Pineda said Almada is day to day and that he made the road trip because he the team wants to observe his recovery. Pineda said he expects Almada to rejoin training next week.
The team was also without goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who suffered an MCL injury last week. Defensive midfielder Franco Ibarra, who started the first seven games, was ineligible for selection after receiving a red card last week.
The lineup was composed of Giakoumakis, flanked by Luiz Araujo and Derrick Etienne. The midfield consisted of Matheus Rossetto, Amar Sejdic and Santiago Sosa. Brooks Lennon and Caleb Wiley were the fullbacks, Miles Robinson and JuanJo Purata the centerbacks and Quentin Westberg in goal.
Chol, who subbed on in the second half, scored with his left shoulder in the 76th minute to give Atlanta United a 2-1 lead. Araujo was credited with the assist, his second this season.
After Chol scored, Etienne ran to the corner flag and a made a motion for everyone to get out of the way so that Chol could celebrate. Chol lifted his jersey to show a T-shirt with the words “Anton Forever” on it, a tribute to former teammate Anton Walkes, who died in a boating accident in January. Chol said he had been wearing that T-shirt under his jersey for every game, hoping to get a chance to show it. He said Almada poked fun of Chol’s celebration before he lifted his jersey. Chol said he wasn’t sure what he was doing.
“I just wanted to tribute him any way possible,” Chol said. “Yeah, we were pretty close. So just amazing for me. And it was emotional.”
Atlanta United jumped to a 1-0 lead on a header by Giakoumakis from a Lennon corner. The corner kick was won by Etienne after he was played in with a long pass from Araujo. Lennon hit the corner closer to the near post, about seven yards from goal. Giakoumakis’s header went in just under the crossbar. It was Lennon’s second assist this season.
Atlanta United 2, Toronto 2
Westberg kept Atlanta United’s lead with two saves of well-taken corners by Federico Bernardeschi. The first was a shot by the Italian. The second was a low-headed shot from Servania in the 29th minute.
Toronto tied the game in the 43rd minute on a 19-yard shot by Richie Laryea that beat Westberg to the near post. Laryea picked up the ball near the right sideline and held off two Atlanta United defenders long enough to get off the shot. It was Toronto’s first goal in its past three games.
Already missing Guzan and Almada, Giakoumakis had to subbed off after appearing to suffer a left hamsting injury in the opening minutes of the second half. After challenging a Toronto defender for the ball, Giakoumakis sat down on the turf and began hitting it with his right hand. He was replaced by Miguel Berry in the 50th minute.
Pineda said that Giakoumakis definitely felt something in his hamstring and that he will be evaluated.
Pineda subbed in Andrew Gutman for Wiley and Chol for Sejdic in the 65th minute. Luis Abram was subbed on for Etienne in the 83rd minute. Atlanta United switched to three centerbacks, pushing Lennon and Gutman into wingback roles, to see out the match.
Toronto put on Lorenzo Insigne for his first action since week 1 and increased its pressure before Servania scored to tie the match.
Pineda said there were numerous individual breakdowns on the goal. Those breakdowns contributed to there being a pocket of space in the middle of the field that resulted in the ball going back outside and then a cut-back cross to Servania.
Toronto finished with 11 shots, four on goal. Atlanta United finished with 10 and five.
The season series with Toronto ends with two draws.
“Definitely frustrating because I think last time we played them, they stole the three points away,” Wiley said. “And for them to do it again is frustrating, especially with, I don’t know, a minute left. I thought we were a better team and we created more chances. So it’s always going to be frustrating when that happens.”
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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 vs. Chicago Fire FC, 4:30 p.m., FS1
April 29 at Nashville SC, 1:30 p.m., Fox
May 6 at Inter Miami CF, 7:30 p.m.
May 13 vs. Charlotte FC, 7:30 p.m.
May 17 vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m.
May 20 at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m.
May 27 at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m.
May 31 vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m., FS1
June 3 at Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m.
June 10 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.
June 21 vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.
June 24 at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
July 2 vs. Philadelphia Union, 4 p.m., Fox
July 8 at CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
July 12 at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.
July 15 vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m., FS1
Aug. 20 at Seattle Sounders, 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 30 vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2 at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Inter Miami CF, 7:30 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