Jahn’s header helps Atlanta United earn late draw with Orlando

Atlanta United's Adam Jahn scores the game-tying goal against Orlando on Saturday at Exploria Stadium.
Atlanta United's Adam Jahn scores the game-tying goal against Orlando on Saturday at Exploria Stadium.

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

Adam Jahn’s header in the second minute of stoppage time led Atlanta United to a 1-1 draw with Orlando on Saturday at Exploria Stadium.

The draw prevented Atlanta United (3-4-2) from losing to Orlando for the second time in eight days.

“I think in terms of the importance, it’s important that the lads out what they deserved out of the game,” interim manager Stephen Glass said. “You saw a real resolve in there and a determination not to get beat. The group of players that were on the pitch at the end, they injected some energy and pace and in general in the second half, I think we deserved what we got.”

For most of the game, the Lions made it look very easy, storming through Atlanta United’s midfield time after time in the first half until it finally found the goal on a set piece. The set piece was created a after shoestring tackle to prevent a breakaway. Atlanta United may have been out of shoestrings after the first 45 minutes.

But Jake Mulraney put in a perfect cross and Jahn beat two defenders to put his shot down and into the corner. It was his first goal this season and first as an Atlanta United player. Anton Walkes was also credited with an assist. After he scored, Jahn made a “Ssshhhing” motion toward Orlando’s supporters. It was the same thing he did toward Atlanta United’s supporters when he was on the Columbus side that knocked the team out of the 2017 playoffs.

“I owed the Atlanta faithful one,” Jahn said.

Atlanta United was outshot (15-9), outdueled (58-54) and outtackled (13-10), but continued to compete until it earned what may be a precious point in the race for the playoffs.

“In terms of importance, we know how important it is to come here and not get beat as a first,” Glass said. “We want to come here and win. So, we are not over the moon. We know there is more work to be done. Especially in the top half of the pitch, we could have slightly been better, looked after the ball better. I think you saw that late in the match, we were trusting it and really pushing it. We created some great opportunities.”

Glass selected most of the same players who started Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with Inter Miami. The two changes were George Bello in for Edgar Castillo at left fullback, and Jeff Larentowicz in at defensive midfielder, with Emerson Hyndman moving higher up the pitch into Matheus Rossetto’s slot. The rest of the lineup consisted of Brad Guzan in goal, Miles Robinson and Walkes at centerback, Franco Escobar and Bello as fullbacks, Eric Remedi as the other defensive midfielder, Ezequiel Barco as the left midfielder, Brooks Lennon as the right midfielder and Erick Torres as the striker.

Atlanta United got off to a better start than in previous games. Unlike against Inter Miami, when the team didn’t put a shot on goal until the second half, Barco put a free kick on frame in the 10th minute. The free kick was the result of a hard foul on Barco by Jhegson Mendez about 25 yards from goal.

But it was Orlando that kept mostly continuous pressure on Atlanta United’s goal. Its best chance came in the 35th minute when Mendez was put through, forcing Guzan to stop his close shot with his left foot.

Orlando created chance after chance, forcing last-ditch tackles by Bello and then Escobar before it finally broke through in the first minute of injury time in the first half. The goal came on a set piece, continuing Atlanta United’s issue with defending dead balls. This time, as it was on Orlando’s first goal last week, came from a corner kick. The ball was low and targeted at the near post. It bounced to Daryl Dike, whose shot was redirected by Benji Michel. Walkes kept him onside.

The Lions created eight chances in the first half. Atlanta United created one.

“We weren’t good enough in the first half, not even close to it,” Larentowicz said. “We regrouped as a team.”

Atlanta United missed a chance to tie the game in the 46th minute when Torres put a header wide after a fine cross by Lennon. Torres was unmarked and close to the goal, just as he was unmarked against Miami when he put that chance over the crossbar. Saturday’s shot was Atlanta United’s second on goal. Hyndman followed with a swerving effort that was palmed away by Orlando’s Pedro Gallese.

Then Glass made several decisions that turned the game.

He put in Jurgen Damm in the 55th minute and took off Robinson, who struggled with defending Dike. Glass said that Robinson has been carrying small knocks. The move forced Escobar, who received a yellow card in the first half, to slide to centerback and Lennon to drop to fullback.

But the moves allowed the team to get more pace on the field.

Glass kept trying to spark the offense. He put in Jahn for Torres and Rossetto for Barco in the 72nd minute. As he did after being subbed off against Miami, Barco didn’t appear happy to leave the game. This time, it looked like he said something to Glass instead of to someone else on the bench.

Nani, who didn’t start, slammed a free kick off the post in the 80th minute. Hyndman cleared the ball, kicking it over his head while he faced the goal, to end the threat.

“Huge play, great head’s up play,” Larentowicz said. “If you don’t do that, then I heard Glass say we don’t’ get the point tonight.”

The carom and Hyndman’s head’s up play gave Atlanta United a lifeline.

Jon Gallagher and Mulraney came on in the 84th minute, putting even more speed on either side of the pitch.

“I think the team knows that we’re in a tough stretch right now,” Larentowicz said. “Three of these day trip games in seven or eight days, and on the back of three games in a week. So I think right now we feel like we came together as a team and got a point in a difficult place to play. Always a difficult place to play. Against a team that has been very strong this year. I think more than anything we’re looking to recover, get home and try and regroup for the next one against Miami.”

Atlanta United upcoming games

Wednesday at Miami, 8 p.m. (Fox Sports South)

Sept. 12 at Nashville, 8:30 p.m. (Fox Sports South)

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