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ATLANTA (June 24, 2018) — Atlanta United played Portland Timbers to a 1-1 draw Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 45,116 fans. Atlanta poured on the pressure throughout the match, dominating possession and placing nine shots on target, but it was Julian Gressel’s second goal of the season that erased an early Portland lead.
“The most important thing is to create chances and at some point, you’re going to convert,” Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino said. “I’m satisfied with how we played, aside from the chances we created because it was difficult to play against a closed team like that who can play fast counter attacks.”
Despite dominating possession for much of the first half, Portland struck first, marking just the fourth time Atlanta had allowed the first goal in an MLS match this season. Winning a free kick in the 32nd minute, Diego Valeri sent a cross into the six-yard box that was just out of the reach of Samuel Armenteros, forcing Brad Guzan to make a stop. However, his parry went right at Larrys Mabiala, who headed in the rebound for the 1-0 lead.
Trailing at halftime for just the third time this season, Gressel equalized 10 minutes in after hammering home a rebound. His first shot attempt inside the box was blocked toward Franco Escobar, who tried to send a cross to Josef Martinez, but it was blocked by Mabiala back toward the corner of the six-yard box where Gressel was stationed. The German midfielder cleanly struck a half-volley off his right foot and placed it near post to beat Jeff Attinella.
Although neither team scored in the final half hour, both teams had plenty of quality chances and close calls. Tito Villalba, a second half substitute, attempted four shots, including a rocket in the 82nd minute that clanked off the crossbar.
Atlanta United (10-3-4, 34 points) returns to MLS action at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Orlando City on Saturday, June 30 (7:00 p.m., ESPN).
Atlanta United 1, Portland Timbers 1
Shots: 20-12 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 9-4 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 8-5 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 12-8 Portland
Saves: 8-3 Portland
Clearances: 37-8 Portland
Offside: 4-3 Atlanta
Possession: 69-31 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 89-73 Atlanta
POR – Larrys Mabiala 32’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Julian Gressel 56’ [HIGHLIGHT]
POR – Diego Chara (yellow) 24’
ATL – Franco Escobar (yellow) 32’
POR – Larrys Mabiala (yellow) 44’
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan; Mikey Ambrose (Sal Zizzo – 73’), Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst ©, Franco Escobar; Jeff Larentowicz, Darlington Nagbe (Tito Villalba – 57’); Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almirón, Julian Gressel (Kevin Kratz – 86’); Josef Martinez.
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Brandon Vazquez, Andrew Carleton, Romario Williams.
PORTLAND TIMBERS STARTING LINEUP
Jeff Attinella; Alvas Powell, Julio Cascante, Larrys Mabiala, Zarek Valentin; Diego Chara, Lawrence Olum, Christhian Paredes (Andrés Flores – 60’); Sebastián Blanco (Bill Poni Tuiloma – 69’), Diego Valeri ©; Samuel Armenteros (Jeremy Ebobisse – 82’)
Substitutes not used: Jake Gleeson, Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Dairon Asprilla, Marco Farfan.
Jose Carlos Rivero (referee), Adam Wienckowski (assistant), Brian Poeschel (assistant), Marcos de Oliveira (fourth), Geoff Gamble (VAR).
- Jeff Larentowicz started his 355th career MLS game. He’s in fifth place in MLS history by a field player.
- Larentowicz also appeared in his 374th career game. He’s also in fifth place in MLS history by a field player.
- Atlanta’s 89 percent passing percentage was the third highest this season and the most against an 11-man squad. Previous highs were against Philadelphia and Vancouver.
- Atlanta forced Portland to make 37 clearances, a season-high for an opposing team.
- This was Darlington Nagbe’s first game against Portland. He holds the Timbers’ MLS record for appearances with 214, and scored 27 goals in league play during his time there (third-most in the club’s MLS history)
- Darlington Nagbe had missed all of 40 minutes and 13 seconds of MLS play this season prior to his injury. No Atlanta player has played more minutes than Nagbe
- Atlanta has conceded just eight goals in the first half this season, tied for the sixth fewest in the league
- Miguel Almirón has created 12 big chances this year. Only two other players have created more than eight (Romell Quioto – 11, Federico Higuaín – 10)