Ezequiel Barco scores first goal of season, Gressel reaches 25 career assists
Atlanta United played to a 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 42,651 fans. Ezequiel Barco scored his first goal of the season while Julian Gressel registered his second assist. Gressel has now become the fastest player to reach 25 career assists in MLS history by a player without previous professional experience. With the draw, Atlanta is now unbeaten in 15 consecutive matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium across all competitions dating back to last season.
Atlanta controlled possession throughout the match and nearly found the opening goal in the 37th minute. Michael Parkhurst played Gonzalo Martinez down left side where he delivered a low cross into the middle of the box and found Josef Martinez. The Venezuelan split the center backs and went sliding into the ball, but his attempt rattled off the crossbar and was cleared from danger.
Philadelphia responded in the 41st minute when Fafa Picault was played in behind Atlanta’s backline for a one-on-one opportunity with Brad Guzan. Picault rounded Guzan and passed the ball towards an empty net, but Miles Robinson cleared the ball off the line for Guzan to gather.
The Union struck shortly after halftime when 18-year-old Brenden Aaronson in his MLS debut scored in the 47th minute. Aaronson received the ball on the left side of the field, dribbled to the top of the box and took a shot that deflected off Leandro Gonzalez Pirez which left Guzan flat-footed and rolled into the net.
Josef Martinez narrowly missed on a pair of chances to bring Atlanta level, beginning in the 58th minute when he pushed a shot just wide of the left post and in the 64th minute when a bicycle attempt was caught by goalkeeper Andre Blake.
But it was Ezequiel Barco who equalized in the 70th minute, just three minutes after checking into the match. Jeff Larentowicz received the ball at the edge of the penalty area and passed to Gressel on the right side. Gressel floated a cross towards the middle of the box where an unmarked Barco headed the ball into the top-left corner.
Atlanta United (0-1-2, 2 points) returns to action Saturday, March 30 when it travels to play Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium (7:30 p.m. EST, FOX Sports South, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
Atlanta United 1, Philadelphia Union 1
Shots: 12-11 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 3-2 Philadelphia
Corner kicks: 3-1 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 9-9
Clearances: 19-7 Philadelphia
Offside: 5-0 Philadelphia
Possession: 71-29 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 87-66 Atlanta
PHI – Brenden Aaronson 47’ (Kai Wagner) [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Ezequiel Barco 70’ (Julian Gressel, Jeff Larentowicz) [HIGHLIGHT]
PHI – Haris Medunjanin 53’ (yellow)
PHI – Corey Burke 73’ (yellow)
ATL – Leandro González Pirez 90+3’ (yellow)
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan; Leandro González Pirez, Michael Parkhurst © (Brek Shea – 59’), Miles Robinson; Julian Gressel, Eric Remedi, Darlington Nagbe, Jeff Larentowicz (Andrew Carleton – 79’); Hector Villalba (Ezequiel Barco – 67’), Gonzalo Martinez, Josef Martinez.
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Romario Williams, Mikey Ambrose, Brandon Vazquez.
PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING LINEUP
Andre Blake; Auston Trusty, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis; Warren Creavalle, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya ©, Brenden Aaronson (Ilsinho – 74’); Cory Burke, Fabrice-Jean Picault (David Accam – 89’).
Substitutes not used: Olivier Mbaizo, Anthony Fontana, Mark McKenzie, Matt Freese, Derrick Jones.
Robert Sibiga (referee), Corey Rockwell (assistant), Corey Parker (assistant), Jon Freemon (fourth), Luis Guardia (VAR), Jozef Batko (assistant VAR)
- Ezequiel Barco scored his first goal of the season and his fifth in his Atlanta United career
- Julian Gressel recorded his second assist of the season
- Jeff Larentowicz recorded his first assist of the season
- Larentowicz made his 394th appearance, keeping him third all-time in MLS history, and his 373rd start which gives him sole possession of third place on MLS’s all-time list, passing Steve Ralston.
- Atlanta United’s 71.4 percent possession tonight was the most by the team since June 2, 2018 when they had 74.94 against the Union.
- Against 11 men it’s the most since the match vs. Montreal Impact on April 28, 2018 (73.17).
- Overall, it’s the 8th MLS match where Atlanta United has had 70 or more percent possession.