Julian Gressel Helps Atlanta United Rescue a Point Against Surging Portland Timbers

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Julian Gressel

Atlanta, Georgia (June 24, 2018) — Few teams in Major League Soccer are playing as well as the Portland Timbers right now.

They reinforced that notion with their performance against Atlanta United on Sunday. On the road against the current Supporters’ Shield leaders, the Timbers played the Five Stripes to a 1-1 draw. It’s a result that extended their league-best unbeaten run to nine games.

The matchup was a clear contrast in styles. Under second-year manager Tata Martino, Atlanta employs an attack-minded and possession-heavy approach. It came up against Giovanni Savarese in his first year as Timbers head man giving Portland a distinct counterattacking identity.

For Darlington Nagbe, the matchup with the Timbers was a reunion of sorts. The 27-year-old midfielder spent the first seven years of his MLS career in Portland before a trade sent him to Atlanta this past off-season. Sunday’s game marked the first meeting against his former club.

Julian Gressel Second Half Strike Allows Atlanta United to Share the Spoils With Portland Timbers

The breakthrough for the visitors came in the 32nd minute. After winning a free kick, Diego Valeri whipped the ball into the box and it initially found the foot of Samuel Armenteros. Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan parried that effort away but the resulting rebound came to Larrys Mabiala. The Timbers centerback headed it past Guzan for his second goal of 2018.

Portland took that one-goal edge into the halftime break. Almost right out of the gates to start the second 45, it was Atlanta who came out firing in the hopes of rectifying the situation. 11 minutes in, it was Julian Gressel who stepped up. The 24-year-old German midfielder blasted a shot from the right-hand side to equalize.

In many respects, Gressel’s game-tying effort was similar to Mabiala’s. Both took advantage of second-chance opportunities off a rebound to get onto the scoresheet. In so doing, they helped their teams secure a share of the spoils in Sunday’s nationally televised contest in front of 45,116 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Not only have the Timbers not lost in their last nine MLS matches. Their unbeaten run across all competitions now stands at 11 with them having won both their U.S. Open Cup matchups so far. They take on LAFC in the quarterfinals of that competition on July 18th.

Both teams face geographical rivals in their next match. The Five Stripes welcome Orlando City SC to Georgia while the Timbers remain on the road in facing Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders. Both games take place on Saturday, June 30 with FOX televising Portland’s clash with Seattle (4:30 p.m. ET)

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