Atlanta United feel draw was missed chance to separate in East

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Michael Parkhurst knows what was left on the table Wednesday night in Atlanta United’s visit to New England.

If it weren’t for Teal Bunbury’s penalty-kick equalizer in the 88th minute, they would’ve snatched three valuable road points, adding insurance to their spot atop the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings. Rather, during a stretch of five games in 15 days, their lead there and in the Eastern Conference is just one point after a 1-1 draw at Gillette Stadium.

“It’s a tie that feels like a loss; it’s two dropped points,” Parkhurst said. “It’s a tight top of the East. We could’ve separated ourselves from New England and gone 10 points clear of them, so it’s disappointing.”

Tata Martino was asked postgame whether he thought the late challenge by Kevin Kratz on New England’s Krisztian Nemeth was worthy of the penalty called by the referee against Atlanta.

“A little … if it was [a penalty],” he said.

“If the penalty that they call against us was a little one, the [Mikey] Ambrose [incident] was little,” he continued. “But the little one [on their side] is a yes, but the penalty [on our side] is a no.”

Despite missing their chance at three points, Martino was optimistic about how results are adding up.

Atlanta has now secured two straight road results, a win over Orlando and the New England draw, but also lost two straight home matches, against Sporting Kansas City and New York Red Bulls. Despite getting four points from a possible 12 and not keeping Mercedes-Benz Stadium a fortress, Martino was upbeat.

“As long as we keep playing second halves like we played tonight, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” Martino said through a translator. “I think the team has been playing well and they deserve the credit and maybe deserve wins against Kansas City, deserved the credit for the win against Orlando, Red Bulls, and today as well.”

Jeff Larentowicz struck a similar tone to Parkhurst and his coach on a night that felt as an opportunity lost for the Five Stripes.

“The season is long and games even out,” Larentowicz said. “You have ups and downs. You have games you win that you probably shouldn’t have, you lose games you probably shouldn't have. That’s one of those games tonight.”