Villalba scores in stoppage time, Atlanta ties Orlando 1-1
By ANDY BUHLER
Jul. 30, 2017
ATLANTA (AP) — Hector "Tito" Villalba again provided the late-game boost Atlanta United needed without injured star forward Josef Martinez.
This time it was for one point instead of three.
Villalba scored his team-high 10th goal in stoppage time to give Atlanta United a 1-1 tie with Orlando City on Saturday.
"It's been my moment and I'm taking advantage of it but I have to thank the coaching staff for all of the help that they've been giving me, showing me things on film and I'm just taking advantage of it," Villalba said.
He also scored in the 86th minute last week in Atlanta's 1-0 victory at Orlando.
On Saturday, Miguel Almiron found Yamil Asad outside the box and he threaded a pass to a wide-open Villalba. He beat goalkeeper Joe Bendik on a one-on-one to salvage a standings point for expansion Atlanta (10-7-4) in the second minute of extra time.
"For roughly 90 minutes we defended really well, but especially coming here it's difficult," Orlando defender Jonathan Spector said. "They have a big crowd behind them and they came pushing for that equalizer. Just a lapse in concentration in what we needed to do and they punished us for it."
Despite avoided a loss, Atlanta still felt it missed an opportunity.
"We scored a goal in extra time and that feels good," coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino, "but we controlled the game, had all the development. In that sense it (feels) like a loss."
The Five Stripes finished with 17 shots (six on target) to Orlando's 10 and possessed the ball for the majority of the game.
Orlando's goal came courtesy of a counter.
Villalba received a through-ball in the 39th minute, lost his defender with a cutback and dropped it to Miguel Almiron, whose shot attempt hit the post. Villalba's follow-up missed wide right.
Orlando then sent the ball downfield to Cyle Larin just outside Atlanta's 18-yard box. He touched it in front of Kaka, who blasted a one-timer past goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 40th.
"Another day maybe I'm able to get a hand to it looking back on it," Guzan said. "Saying that, I think he's probably scored a few of those in his career."
Bendik had five saves in the second match between the only two MLS teams in the southeastern United States.
Martinez missed his second consecutive game with a foot contusion suffered in a U.S. Open Cup match June 14. Villalba has filled the scoring void in his absence.
Dom Dwyer made his debut for Orlando City after coming over from Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday in an MLS-record $1.6 million deal. He started at forward alongside Cyle Larin and played 72 minutes and did not attempt a shot.
Both teams will have a weeklong break for the MLS All-Star game on Wednesday in Chicago. Atlanta's Greg Garza, Michael Parkhurst and Miguel Almiron were named to the MLS All-Star team, along with Dwyer and Kaka representing Orlando.
It was Atlanta's final game in Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. Atlanta's next home game will be at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.