(Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
Gabriel Pirani scored in the 80th minute, and D.C. salvaged a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United to avoid a disastrous result for their playoff hopes.
Mateusz Klich contributed his team-leading ninth assist for D.C. (9-12-9, 36 points) on Pirani's first MLS goal since his arrival on loan from Santos during the secondary transfer window.
The result was D.C.'s third consecutive draw, a result that keeps them narrowly in possession of the ninth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth, two points above New York City FC.
Saba Lobjanidze scored his third goal since his own summer arrival in the game's early stages early on for Atlanta (12-8-10, 46 points). But the Five Stripes couldn't build on their early advantage and remained sixth in the East on a night they could have climbed even with New England in fifth.
D.C. thought they would have an opportunity to level the game earlier in the second half when Christian Benteke's shot struck the triceps of Atlanta defender Luis Abram in the 62nd minute.
But after a lengthy delay, referee Lukasz Szpala overturned the call for an offside violation on D.C. defender Donovan Pines in the buildup.
Instead, Pirani equalized in the 80th minute after Yamil Asad and Klich connected in midfield. Klich's pass in particular was just a simple square ball, but it played Pirani into space at the top of the 18-yard box where he slotted a low finish past the diving Brad Guzan.
Lobjanidze nearly set up the opener in the 3rd minute when he crossed to Georgios Giakoumakis, whose header struck the near post.
Instead, he was the scorer who put the visitors in front 11 minutes later.
Tyler Wolff did excellent work to press D.C.'s Chris Durkin into a turnover on Atlanta's left flank, then an early cross into the path of Lobjanidze, The winger hit an excellent first-time shot, opting for precision over power to guide it into the bottom left corner.
Jose Fajardo was involved in most of D.C.'s first-half chances, with his best coming in successive minutes. He skied his 32nd-minute attempt over the bar from a tight angle and then guided an open header wide of the far post in the 33rd.
--Field Level Media