Orlando City held Atlanta United to a 1-1 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as goals from Mauricio Pereyra and Juan Jose Sanchez Purata propelled both teams to one point.
It only took nine minutes for Orlando City to take the lead. An initial foul by George Cambell on down Facundo Torres awarded the visitors a free kick in the attacking half, setting up Mauricio Pereyra for success. The midfielder stepped up to the spot, and rocketed the right-footed shot into the top left corner to open up the scoring.
Atlanta United goalkeeper Rocco Ríos Novo appeared dumbfounded by the strike, failing to take any action after the whistle.
After a dominant first half by Orlando City, the home side entered the second 45 determined to get the equalizer. The Five Stripes returned to the pitch with an urgency to score, reaching Orlando’s box all too easily before finally finding the back of the net. It was Mexican newcomer Juan Jose Sanchez Purata who managed the feat for Atlanta United, heading home Thiago Almada’s set piece.
Atlanta United held on to possession after the goal in search of the second goal. Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda introduced Thiago Almada, Josef Martinez and Dom Dwyer in the second half, adding fresh energy to the attack. The three connected well in the final third, but Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese managed world-class saves to maintain the 1-1 draw.
Both sides walked away with one point, maintaining their place on the Eastern Conference standings.
Atlanta United player ratings
1. Atlanta United
GK: Rocco Ríos Novo - 6/10 - Dumbfounded by the set-piece goal. Did not at all react. Apparent that he's still very new to the scene.
RB: Aiden McFadden - 7.5/10 - Decent performance, one necessary clearance. Subbed out as Gonzalo Pineda opted for an attack-driven second half.
CB: Juan Jose Sanchez Purata - 10/10 - Capitalized on Thiago Almada's set piece to score the equalizer.
CB: Alan Franco - 7/10 - Decent, nothing out of the ordinary.
CB: George Campbell - 7/10 - Made the needed clearances, but silly in giving up the free kick to Orlando City that led to the goal.
LB: Caleb Wiley - 7.5/10 - Solid performance. Pushed forward and found space in the attacking third to provide the necessary support. Still an untapped potential.
CM: Luiz Araújo - 7.5/10 - Strong game by the midfielder as expected, pushed forward to test boundaries. Often not far behind to offer any needed support on the attack.
CM: Amar Sejdić - 7/10 - Inconsistent performance, strong on the ball at times but lacked assertiveness at others.
CM: Matheus Rossetto- 7/10 - Solid defensive efforts, but otherwise took a backseat role.
F: Marcelino Moreno - 7.5/10 - Dominant performance, supporting Josef Martinez and Ronaldo Cisneros on top constantly.
F: Ronaldo Cisneros - 7/10 - A few attempts, but otherwise disappointing from the forward. Lacked power on the attack and missed a couple open opportunities.
SUB: Josef Martinez (For McFadden, '60) - 9/10 - Changed the tempo of the game, propelled Atlanta United to hold the dominant edge. Lead in shots by the final whistle.
SUB: Thiago Almada (For Sejdić, '60) - 8/10 - Great substitute option, pushing forward and adding speed.
SUB: Dom Dwyer (For Cisneros, '74) - 9/10 - Contributed fresh new energy to the Five Stripes, almost managed the second goal. Unlucky not to get a goal.
Orlando City player ratings
2. Orlando City
GK: Pedro Gallese - 7/10 - A few necessary saves in the first half, before failing to make the reach during Purata's equalizer. But made up for it in the second half when spotting what would have been a second and third goal for Atlanta United.
RB: Ruan Gregório Teixeira - 8/10 - An extremely necessary figure for Orlando City. Would've been a completely different scoreline without the player.
CB: Rodrigo Schlegel - 7.5/10 - Effective coverage, as expected.
CB Robin Jansson - 8/10 - Strong performance as expected, but managed a stunning clearance in the second half, shutting down Moreno to avoid a second goal.
LB: Kyle Smith -6 /10 - Four clearances, nothing special.
RW: Facundo Torres - 6/10 - Lackluster, opted for a more defensive role this time around. Did not look to be the same player with four goals and six assists this season.
CM: Júnior Urso - 7.5/10 - Extremely strong and inspiring first half before energy dwindled. Completely different second 45, leading to a weakened Orlando City.
CAM: Mauricio Pereyra - 9/10 - Free-kick goal.
CM: César Araújo - 8/10 - Strong first 45, but elevated performance in the second half by completing closing down Thiago Almada on the right.
LW: Jake Mulraney - 7.5/10 - Played a good supporting role on the left, providing crosses when needed but nothing too defining.
F: Ercan Kara - 7/10 - Disappointing, lacked drive on the attack. Zero shots on goal after 55 minutes of play is concerning.
SUB: Benji Michel (For Jake Mulraney, '54) - 6/10 - Not much of a difference.
SUB: Tesho Akindele (For Kara, '54) - 6/10 - Again, not much of a difference.
SUB: Antônio Carlos (For Smith, '67) - 7/10 - Decent, avoided a second goal.
SUB: Andrés Perea (For Torres, '68) - 6/10 - Not the offensive power Oscar Pareja needed when subbing him in.
SUB: Alexandre Pato (For Pereyra, '85) - /10 - Almost scored, unlucky to hit the post but most effective substitute out of the bunch.