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Union stun Atlanta with late comeback as Jakob Glesnes’ 35-yard blast steals 2-2 tie

Glesnes’ 93rd-minute rocket wasn’t his first goal like that, but this one might have been his most impressive.

Atlanta United's Marcelino Moreno, right, on the ball in front of the Union's Jakob Glesnes, center, and Leon Flach, left, during Sunday's game.
Atlanta United's Marcelino Moreno, right, on the ball in front of the Union's Jakob Glesnes, center, and Leon Flach, left, during Sunday's game.Read moreAtlanta United FC

The Union staged a stunning late comeback Sunday at Atlanta United, stealing a 2-2 tie at Mercedes-Benz Stadium thanks to Cory Burke’s goal in the 84th minute and Jakob Glesnes’ 35-yard blast for an equalizer in the 93rd.

All of the game’s four goals came in the second half. Atlanta had led 2-0 thanks to a Kacper Przybylko own goal in the 58th minute and an Anton Walkes header over Burke in the 83rd.

Here are some observations on the game.

Glesnes saves the day

Glesnes’ rocket wasn’t the first time he’s scored a goal like that, as Union fans know well. But to do it in these circumstances might have been even more impressive: from the run of play instead of on a free kick, and in second-half stoppage time to steal a point.

Oh, and he shot it in off the crossbar, so hard that the ball bounced down and back up on to the bar before settling over the goal line.

The goal capped off a remarkable game for the Norwegian centerback. While registering just 42 touches, he completed 32 of 34 passes and recorded 4 duels won, 3 clearances, 3 recoveries, and 3 shots -- plus a handful of charging runs up two-thirds of the field to spark attacks. Centerbacks don’t normally do that, but Glesnes has done it a few times in recent games.

It’s a good thing that Jack Elliott is willing to stay deep, and that Leon Flach and Alejandro Bedoya are able to provide further cover when Glesnes goes forward. And it’s especially good when it pays off the way it did in this game.

» READ MORE: Union’s Jim Curtin earns two-year contract extension

Przybylko scores again, but...

As the national TV broadcast pointed out before kickoff, Przybylko was in terrific form before MLS’s June break with eight goals in 12 games. It was right to wonder whether he’d be able to continue that good form after three weeks off.

Przybylko found the net, but the net he found was his own. He rose up to head a Brooks Lennon corner kick out of play but instead inadvertently headed the ball into his own net.

We’ll save the questions about his scoring streak for another day, because of how wild this game was. But Union fans will hope he gets back to finding the right net soon.

Spotlight on Flach

Flach has gotten a lot of praise in his first season with the Union, culminating with being included on the U.S. national team’s preliminary list for next month’s Concacaf Gold Cup. That put a spotlight on him in this game, and he did pretty well: 50 touches, 29-of-34 passing, 8 recoveries, 6 duels won, and 2 tackles.

“I want to be in the Gold Cup if it’s possible,” Flach said after the game. “Things are going really fast for me, it’s true, but I think with this team, every step is a good step.”

U.S. fans who have watched him play would say the same thing.

Fontana comes up short

With José Andrés Martínez away at the Copa América, the Union shuffled their midfield and returned Anthony Fontana to the starting lineup. It was his fourth start of the year, and his first since May 16.

Fontana had a big chance to score in the 16th minute that he didn’t convert. Beyond that, he was quieter than he needed to be. He recorded just 19 touches, 7-of-9 passing, 2 shots, 3 duels won, 5 recoveries, and 1 tackle. He left the game in the 69th minute, replaced by Jack McGlynn.

With Dániel Gazdag injured and two more games coming this week, Fontana will likely see plenty more playing time in the short term. But once Gazdag is ready to go, Fontana will need to make a better impression if he’s to play regularly.

» READ MORE: Union’s Dániel Gazdag forced to leave Hungary’s Euros team with a knee injury

Santos subbed off

We know what Sergio Santos can do with his line-breaking speed and skill on the ball. But we haven’t seen him show it for a full game in a long time, because he hasn’t played a full game since March 1, 2020 – the opening game of last season. On Sunday, Santos took three significant hits in the first half-hour and was withdrawn at halftime.

This isn’t good in the big picture or the small picture. The Union’s coaching staff has worried about Santos’ durability for a while, and it’s a fair concern.

Santos likely wouldn’t have played the whole of this game anyway, with a big game coming Wednesday at home against the reigning champion Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m., PHL17). But it would be nice to see Santos play a full 90 minutes again at some point.

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