A week after getting thoroughly outplayed on the road, Atlanta United went into one of the more intimidating venues in the league and grabbed a result.
Atlanta United used Julian Gressel's first professional goal to draw the Portland Timbers, 1-1, at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon. Gressel scored via a solid finish seconds into the second half, but the Timbers equalized through a Liam Ridgewell goal in the 50th minute.
Portland nearly grabbed all three points late, but a solid David Guzman strike in the 91st minute was denied by the left post to level the match level.
- INCREASED INTENSITY: This wasn't the prettiest game from Atlanta United, but it was good enough to grab a result on the road. A week after coming out flat in a defeat to New York City FC, Atlanta United showed more grit and desire in Portland. The expansion club not only did a better job of defending, but sporadically threatened when it hit back on the counter.
- HELD IN CHECK: While Atlanta did a strong job of defending the Timbers as a whole, the way they stymied playmaker Diego Valeri deserves praise. Atlanta kept Valeri in check for much of the 90 minutes, limiting the Argentine, who finished with just two shots on the day and one on target. Keeping the dynamic attacker in check was crucial to Atlanta grabbing a point.
- MISSION IN ACTION: The Timbers needed another attacking threat to help unlock Atlanta United, but didn't have one, due in part to Darlington Nagbe's absence. Nagbe was not in uniform on Sunday, and Portland sorely missed his speed and creativity on the dribble. Without him, the Timbers struggled to create much danger from wide positions, which made it easy for Atlanta to hone in and negate Valeri.