Atlanta United FC and the Houston Dynamo were delayed almost an hour thanks to active weather in the Metro Atlanta area, but Miguel Almiron made sure it was worth the wait. The 23-year-old scored goals in the 30th, 42nd, and 80th minutes (on a penalty) to lead United to a 4-1 victory over the Dynamo, who have yet to win on the road this season and have gone winless in 28 of their last 30 away from BBVA Compass Stadium. It was Atlanta’s first win in four matches and puts them at 4-3-4 on the season, with the four goals the most they’ve scored since a 4-0 shutout of the Chicago Fire on March 18 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Neither keeper was tested past their comfort zones too much in the first two-thirds of the match. In the 28th minute, though, after Houston were awarded a free kick right outside the box, Alec Kann was up to the task as he stonewalled Boniek Garcia’s attempt to keep it scoreless. It didn’t remain that way long after that; in the 30th minute, Yamil Asad outworked his man in front of the Houston box and found Miguel Almiron, who let loose a scorcher off his left foot for the first goal of the match.
Almiron’s second, in the 42nd, was probably better than the first - and I’ll let you watch because I’m not quite sure how it happened, exactly. (Credit to Julian Gressel for the nice cross toward the box, by the way.)
Things got a little bit spicy early on in the 2nd half as Tito Villalba went down on an apparent non-call. Tata Martino kicked the ball back on the field in frustration and was sent off as a result. It probably did deserve an ejection, but Martino had every reason to be unhappy about play being allowed to go on in that situation.
“I don’t think I necessarily deserved to get kicked out. The ball came into the technical area and I kicked it,” Martino would say afterwards.
It looked as if it were still hanging in the balance as Houston went to its bench in an attempt to get back in it, but in the 76th minute, Julian Gressel iced it with his second goal in as many games.
“The ball got caught under my feet, and then it was behind me. I really have no idea what happened behind me until I saw the ball again,” said Gressel.
Moments later, Villalba was taken down in the box (the first penalty given to Atlanta in team history). Almiron would take it, and...you know the rest.
“I think it was coming (for Almiron),” Martino said. “(Shooting more) is something that we’ve asked of him. We wanted him to shoot more from medium distance and get into the box and take shots from there as well. Today he was able to do that.”
“Today, thanks to God, I was able to score,” Almiron told the media afterwards. “The team is leaving happy and me especially; I’m more happy with the team performance. I think the team deserved a victory after all the effort we’d given.”
The penalty conceded by Atlanta was only a footnote to an otherwise perfect night for Kann - who had arguably his best performance of the season - as the home team were the ones coming away with all three points heading into a rematch with New York City FC next Sunday at Bobby Dodd.
“It will be a good measurement for us,” Martino said. “We’ll go back and watch (the 3-1 loss against them) to try to correct the things we did. I think, for me, the game against New York City was the only game where we were outplayed for a full 90 minutes.”