Larrys Mabiala had a goal, and keeper Jeff Attinella made nine saves to help the Portland Timbers extend their unbeaten streak to nine games with a 1-1 draw against host Atlanta United on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Julian Gressel delivered the equalizer in the 56th minute for first-place United, who have managed just one win in their past four home games.
Trailing 1-0, Atlanta put intense pressure on the Timbers early in the second half. The Five Stripes finally broke through when Gressel banged home a rebound. It was Gressel’s second goal of the season.
Atlanta’s prolific striker, Josef Martinez, who sustained a broken nose in his last game, started Sunday’s match wearing a protective mask. The mask seemed to bother MLS’ leading goal-scorer, and he ended up taking it off in the second half. Martinez finished with four shots but no goals.
United maintained possession for the bulk of the first half but couldn’t solve the Portland backline, which often featured five men.
After withstanding early Atlanta pressure, the Timbers had multiple quality opportunities in the first half, most coming on counterattacks following United threats. Sebastian Blanco hit the right post on a dangerous shot in the 23rd minute. Blanco had to leave the game in the second half due to a leg injury.
Mabiala’s goal came off a rebound from a Samuel Armenteros chance in the 32nd minute. It was Mabiala’s second goal of the season.
Atlanta outshot Portland 21-12. United goalkeeper Brad Guzan stopped three shots.
The match marked the first meeting for Atlanta midfielder Darlington Nagbe against his former club. Nagbe spent his first seven MLS season with the Timbers before being acquired by Atlanta in the offseason.
Nagbe had to leave the game early in the second half and limped gingerly off the pitch.
Atlanta will host Orlando City on Saturday. The Timbers travel to oppose the rival Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
—Field Level Media