On Wednesday, New York City FC traveled to the Peach State to take on Atlanta United FC. Both teams have seen their share of struggles in 2023, but the Pigeons clearly had the most pressure, for they were winless in nine Major League Soccer matches going into the fixture.
On the other hand, Atlanta’s team was fairly depleted due to international duty and injury. This included the World Cup winner, Thiago Almada, who was not available since he was returning from international duty, and then Giorgos Giakoumakis was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Realistically, NYCFC had an opportunity to grab their first win since April, and then the first win on the road. Sure, Nick Cushing rotated a few of the players, and yes, the team was without James Sands and Maxime Chanot. However, if there was a game to take advantage of, then this was the one. Plus, the Bronx side was unbeaten in the last seven against the Five Stripes, with four wins and three draws.
Unfortunately, that was not the case, for the two sides shared the points again in a 2-2 draw. The Pigeons almost won, but could not finish out the match.
NYCFC draws Atlanta United, failing to win again
New York City FC got on the scoresheet very quickly thanks to Gabriel Pereira. In the first minute, Keaton Parks sent the ball right to the Brazilian, who was running right outside of the right side of the box. He moved himself into the box, sent Andrew Gutman the wrong way, and shot his shot, putting the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
Unsurprisingly, that lead was short lived, for Atlanta scored in the 11th minute via Tyler Wolff. The NYCFC backline failed to follow through after a tackle on the ball, and this gave the room and space for Atlanta’s rising star to score.
Yet, in the second half, Pereira found the back of the net again in the 56th minute. Atlanta tried to clear the ball, but a missed intervention attempt saw the ball fall to Richard Ledezma. As a result, the American passed the ball to the winger. Within seconds, Pereira sent the ball toward goal, which went through Brad Guzan’s legs, and traveled in for the second goal.
For the most part, Pereira was the entire offense for NYCFC. He scored both goals, which knowingly would have never happened without Parks’ assist on the first one and Ledezma’s assist on the second one. But of the three shots, where all three were on target, he had two of them.
Additionally, it looked like Pereira would lead his team to a win too. But as luck would have it, or rather the lack of luck, Atlanta was able to grab a point via a game-tying goal in stoppage time. Another defensive lapse allowed Nicolas Firmino to head the ball into the ground and into the back of the net.
This was extremely disappointing, but based on this season, it is not shocking. Yes, Pereira did well and scored twice, but NYCFC should have held on and won. The inability to close out games is frustrating, as is the lack of wins. Of course, this was not the team’s best fixture at all, but the fact they allowed the Five Stripes to steal points with a couple of minutes to go is not the NYCFC way.
Nonetheless, Pereira was the bright light in the match, and thankfully he scored twice. Otherwise, the team would have left Georgia with no points.
Now, New York City FC will continue their road trip, for they will take on the Portland Timbers, returning to the Rose City for the first time since the 2021 MLS Cup win. Will a win finally arrive away from home? More than likely, the answer will be no.