Atlanta United were leading Real Salt Lake, 2-0, in the 55th minute of their match on Saturday night when Leandro Gonzalez Pirez made a very nice sliding play to block a shot in the box. There’s nothing extraordinary about that seeing as how he’s become one of the team’s most dependable defenders through seven matches. However, what happened next blew my mind.
The Argentinian center back collected possession off the block in his own box, decided to dribble around a pressing Yura Movsisyan in said box, keep dribbling up field to take on a veteran MLS central midfielder in Kyle Beckerman now 30 yards from his own goal. He skates past the U.S. international like he’s not even there and instead of trying to find an open teammate continues sprinting up-field with the ball. Eventually picking up his head, he finds Miguel Almiron open in space to create a temporary 3-on-1 attacking situation at midfield. Watch this complete and utter nonsense:
Pirez is exciting
LGP is the most exciting center back we've ever seen.Posted by Dirty South Soccer on יום שני 24 אפריל 2017
When knowledgeable soccer fans see stuff like this, their immediate reaction will be to bring up the likes of David Luiz from Chelsea. A hectic defender with similar attacking tendencies, especially earlier in his career. However, LGP takes it to the next level. He makes Luiz look as calm and conservative as John Terry.
This isn’t the first time this season that LGP has gotten a little frisky to jump into the attack. Take this bit of skill against Seattle as another piece of evidence.
Atlanta United's center back pic.twitter.com/sKxe22B5UJ— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) April 1, 2017
Defenders aren’t supposed to be doing this type of stuff. If not for some bad decision making by Tito Villalba, his spontaneous adventure forward against RSL beginning from a tackle in his own box would’ve created a goal. It’s moments like this that make him a truly special talent. There will be times where he turns the ball over or gets caught out of position. He will have some mishaps along the way, but damn if he’s the most exciting defender I’ve ever seen. Please don’t stop doing you, LGP.