Villalba’s brace carries Atlanta United to 2-2 draw with Toronto FC

| April 9, 2017

Expansion club remains undefeated on the road, earns consecutive draws against last year’s MLS Cup finalists

TORONTO — Led by two goals from Tito Villalba, Atlanta United (2-1-2, 8 points) played to a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC (1-0-4, 7 points) on Saturday night at BMO Field. It’s the third consecutive result for Atlanta on the road, where the club remains unbeaten after a win against Minnesota and back-to-back draws against the respecting defending champions from the Eastern and Western Conferences.

“Two very good draws against two of the best teams in the league,” Atlanta head coach Tata Martino said. “In tonight’s case, playing a man down, being at a disadvantage, it’s a valuable result.”

Villalba opened the scoring in the 15th minute, hammering home an opportunity from Miguel Almiron who played the forward through from midfield. Villalba outran Chris Mavinga to latch onto Almiron’s pass, then beat Alex Bono with a powerful shot to the goalkeeper’s right.

Toronto equalized in the 20th minute courtesy of Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian forward was played on from a right-footed flick from Jozy Altidore inside of the penalty area. In alone, Giovinco one-touched an attempt past Alec Kann.

Toronto then took the lead right before halftime with Justin Morrow redirecting a close-range cross from Steven Beitashour. Toronto strung a few passes together with Giovinco finding Victor Vazquez, who then played an overlapping Beitashour along the far edge of the 18-yard box. Beitashour fed Morrow, who was able to re-direct it past Kann.

Atlanta wasted little time bringing the match level after halftime, scoring within 90 seconds of the re-start. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez sent a long ball over the top of the Toronto defense for Villalba. After winning a footrace, Villalba’s perfect first-touch led him on goal, where he beat Bono through his legs.

Atlanta kept the pressure on, most notably with Almiron firing two shots on target, forcing saves from Bono. His best came in the 69th minute in attempt that look destined for the upper left corner. Bono was able to punch up-and-over the bar for a corner kick.

After Yamil Asad was red carded in the 74th minute, each team had opportunities at a winner, but the match finished 2-2. Kann was particularly important down the stretch and ultimately finished with seven saves, tying the second-highest mark by an MLS goalkeeper this season.

Atlanta United returns to action Saturday, April 15, against Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports South.

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