Hector Villalba struck late for the second time in as many matches to help Atlanta United salvage a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC in a thrilling encounter to bring the curtain down on the Five Stripes' tenure at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.
Two minutes into second-half stoppage time, Villalba took Yamil Asad's throughball and hammered a low finish beyond Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik. That goal, his 10th of the season, came six minutes later than the screamer he scored to give Atlanta all three points in a 1-0 victory at Orlando just eight days prior.
Villalba's strike canceled out Kaká's screamer from distance late in the first half. Until very late, it looked as if the Brazilian superstar's fourth goal of the season would be the main storyline on a day billed as the Orlando MLS debut of newly acquired forward Dom Dwyer.
The Five Stripes saw their four-game winning streak come to an end, but are unbeaten in their last five and have taken four points out of six from their potential Southeastern rivals. The Lions are winless in their last three.
- LET ME STAY ON, COACH: Villalba has now started all 21 games for Atlanta, and yet with his late heroics over his last two games may be making a bid for even more playing time from coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino. The 23-year-old Argentine now has two goals after the 85th minute despite being removed at or before that mark in 16 of his 21 starts.
- IT SHOULDA BEEN ME!: While Miguel Almiron assisted on Villalba’s equalizer, he perhaps deserved to the be the one scoring his ninth goal of the season after he registered nine shots, including three on goal and two off the woodwork. His second attempt to hit the post came a minute before Kaka’s opener, adding even more frustration for the Paraguayan.
- IS TWO BETTER THAN ONE?: After getting dealt from Sporting Kansas City earlier in the week, Orlando’s Dwyer started next to Cyle Larin as Jason Kreis went with a rare two-striker lineup. That may be why Kaka was allowed space to unleash his ferocious strike. But the Lions were rarely the aggressors Satursay, getting outshot 17-10, with Larin departing after 62 minutes and Dwyer after 73.
They Said It
ATL is the soccer capital of the South. pic.twitter.com/BEk5G6QOcZ— Rob Stone (@RobStoneONFOX) July 29, 2017
- ATL: Sunday, Aug. 6 – at Sporting Kansas City (8 pm ET | FS1, MLS LIVE in Canada)
- ORL: Saturday, Aug. 5 – at Montreal Impact (7:30 pm ET | TVAS, MLS LIVE in the US)