Atlanta looked to get on the front foot early, as Jake Mulraney's third-minute attempt from outside the box was stopped by Kenneth Vermeer. Then in the 10th minute, Marcelino Moreno had a crack at a long-range free kick that snuck over the crossbar. Cincinnati had a bid of their own as Brenner found himself with space inside the scoring area but fired it wide.
Sloppy play nearly doomed Cincinnati just past the 20-minute mark when Jackson Conway forced a giveaway and almost made it 1-0 if not for a nice save from Vermeer. But Alec Kann robbed Acosta right in front of the net moments later as the hosts watched a great opportunity of their own go begging. Kann was called upon once more in the 28th to keep out an Isaac Atanga attempt as Atlanta's defense struggled to keep Cincinnati at bay.
Mulraney later had another chance to put Atlanta ahead via a diving header from a Hernandez cross but missed, followed by a free header from Conway that was a bit too high. And another warning shot was fired Cincinnati's way early in the second half as another Moreno blast from distance was handled by Vermeer.
Cincinnati produced a glorious opportunity in the 54th minute as Alvaro Barreal's shot from just beyond the scoring area caromed off the woodwork, deflected off the back of Kann and rolled harmlessly out of play. Haris Medunjanin's attempt at the far post seconds later was turned aside, as well as another dangerously close call that went by the wayside.
But the breakthrough finally came in the 61st minute through Acosta. The Argentine midfielder finished off a perfect ball from Brenner with a beautiful curler past Kann to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.
With Atlanta looking to level things up, Valentino inserted Josef Martinez and Matheus Rossetto in the 65th minute. And the equalizer arrived with 20 minutes remaining as a Brooks Lennon cross found its way to Hernandez, who put it home to make it a 1-1 contest. Vermeer was forced to deal with yet another long-range shot – this time from Mulraney with just over 10 minutes to go.
In the 87th minute, Martinez saw his moment as Atlanta were awarded a free kick just outside the box, but the Venezuelan striker was denied by Vermeer. The Cincinnati 'keeper stood strong again as he made himself big to put out an Atlanta chance in the early stages of stoppage time on a great combination between Mulraney and Moreno.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Having won just once in their last 22 home matches entering the night, Cincinnati looked to pick up their first victory at TQL Stadium against an Atlanta United side that hadn't won away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium all season and was looking for a spark in their first game after relieving manager Gabriel Heinze of his duties. But a long-awaited win on home soil wasn’t in the cards, as Japp Stam’s men again failed to see a lead to the finish line. Atlanta’s club-worst winless streak is now up to nine, but they showed some positive spells in their first match under Valentino and will hope to carry it into Saturday’s return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Josef Martinez has been good for a few moments of magic in the Queen City. Standing over a free kick that would have put Atlanta ahead with just minutes to go in regular time, Vermeer had other ideas.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Without several key saves from Kenneth Vermeer down the stretch, the match could have had a much different ending. The FC Cincy goalkeeper was credited with eight stops.