I’d like to congratulate Minnesota United on winning the World Cup last night. For the second time in 2017 Atlanta United lost to an NASL team as the Five Stripes went down a man and had to rely on fourth string goal keeper Alex Tambakis for most of the second half. Still, that was a heroic effort from Atlanta United and the result was more luck for Minnesota than a deserved result. Seriously, the goal Christian Ramirez had waft past his calf to put the Loons even would have made Gyasi Zardes smile.
After a first half that featured mostly Minnesota United kicking at Tito Villalba and punching Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez in the head, Atlanta United curiously came alive after the red card to third string keeper Kyle Reynish. Tata Martino took the opportunity to pull the mostly ineffective Kenwyne Jones and the game really took off.
Tito Villalba showed that he might just be Atlanta’s most unsung hero of the season. He stepped up again as he has all year and put in an excellent game. If there is any doubt that he is one of the most important reasons for the team’s success this year, last night should put that to rest. Joining him was Julian Gressel who reclaimed the Gresselmania belt after a lackluster game in New England.
Also, Doyle got to double down on his brand (mostly good analysis but also low key Deadspin style dumpster fodder):
Atlanta was playing a man down and had their 4th sting keeper on the field for most of the second half, what was Toronto’s excuse? And, let’s be real, Doyle dumping on Atlanta after clinching the playoffs after spending all year beating good teams is as bad of a take two weeks ago as it is after last night. Maybe he’ll have a more fulsome explanation about why Atlanta doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs, but I doubt that’s going to happen.
Anyway, here’s what it looked like...
So if there was any doubt that the team doesn’t play as well with Kenwyne Jones at striker than another option, tonight should demonstrate that.
I’ll be singing R.E.M. until Mexico scores a goal that puts the U.S. in the Men’s World Cup next week.
In the end though, I’m going to cop some lines from Men in Blazers: Soccer isn’t about winning and losing, it’s about the emotions you feel and last night had all of them. Atlanta easily could have lost the game 1-0 but the team found a way to fight back and have a chance to win or draw the game and only lost because of an improbably deflection. This might sound weird, but to me a 1-0 win when the team looks bad feels worse than a game like that where it took a lucky deflection, red card, and fourth string keeper to seal the result for the opposition.
Atlanta will take a well deserved break before heading to Harrison, New Jersey to take on the Red Bulls.