The Southern rivals traded goals in the second half, but Nashville (5-4-4, 19 points) gave up a late goal in the 88th minute from center forward Dom Dwyer to settle for a 2-2 draw on Saturday at Geodis Park.
Nashville center forward CJ Sapong scored in the 25th minute, thanks to an easy dish from midfielder Hany Mukhtar. Atlanta's Thiago Almada answered in the 27th minute. It was Mukhtar's turn in the 32nd minute, scoring in back-to-back matches.
The resilient factor was evident from both teams, but Nashville players felt a win slipped away, given Atlanta (4-4-4, 16 points) battled back twice.
"Towards the end of the second half, we had chances to put the game away," center back Walker Zimmerman said.. "Finish it 3-1, go home with three points and I don't think any of us are thrilled of letting in that last goal."
Here are a few observations from the match:
It was Nashville's game to win
The entire Nashville defense had its eyes on Almada in the 90th minute, but forgot about Brooks Lennon on the right wing.
Almada, Atlanta's ultimate playmaker, dribbled from his left towards the middle of the field. When the defense shifted to anticipate Almada's pass wide right, he chipped the ball to Lennon, who snuck behind left wingback Dan Lovitz and into the penalty box. Lennon's soft touch set up Dwyer's easy tap-in.
"The story of the season is the quality of goals that we're letting our opponents score – it's just not a high enough level," Zimmerman said. "And so that's on us and it's something that we haven't experienced as much in the past."
Long delay, swift restart
Two goals were scored in a span of eight minutes. Both stemmed from defensive mistakes.
Atlanta midfielder Matheus Rossetto's rushed pass intended for Marcelino Moreno in the 25th minute is what began eventually led to Sapong's goal.
Two minutes later, Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis committed a similar offense, with forward Ronaldo Cisneros closing him down near his goal. Moreno intercepted the ball and teed it up for Almada to score.
A record weather delay for Nashville
Two hours, 53 minutes. All but eight minutes were spent in a locker room, waiting.
Saturday's lightning delay just beat Nashville's previous record as an MLS club – a 2-hour, 30-minute delay against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
The soccer hiatus began at 7:14 p.m. By 7:45, players trickled out of their locker rooms to warm up. Play was supposed to resume at 7:56, but with four minutes left in the warmup, lightning struck again. That began a series of more than eight recordings of lightning.
— The Roadies (@NSCRoadies) May 22, 2022
An unbeaten streak vs. Atlanta brewing
Since Sept. 2020, Nashville is 3-0-3 against Atlanta, holding a +7 goal differential
Atlanta claimed the 2-1 win in Nashville's first MLS match in Feb. 2020 at Nissan Stadium and followed that up with a convincing 2-0 victory during the MLS restart in August in Atlanta.
For stories about Nashville SC or Soccer in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at DHills@gannett.com. Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake. Connect with Drake on Instagram at @drakehillssoccer and on Facebook.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville SC ties 2-2 with Atlanta United FC after weather delay