For all the various firsts that Atlanta United have experienced this season, they saw two more go in the books against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, they were dubious ones: first time conceding an opening goal in franchise history and first-ever losing streak. Atlanta followed up a poor showing last week with an even more disappointing one as they found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline against NYCFC.
It didn’t take long for the home side to get on the board first - and naturally, it was their big-ticket designated player doing the honors. A charging David Villa broke into the box untouched and blasted a well-timed shot past Alec Kann off the right post and in to give New York City a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. Carlos Carmona had somewhat a beat on it, but the Spaniard simply had too much room to work with and didn’t miss as NYCFC pulled in front.
Carmona and Atlanta were able to pull back level, though. In the 40th minute, Carmona lasered an attempt just inside the box past an outstretched Sean Johnson to put United on terms late in the half.
Would it be enough to give the Five Stripes momentum headed into the second 45 minutes? Not hardly. Jack Harrison possessed the ball into the box, then deftly shuttled it off to Ethan White to his right. White rifled a cross in front of the net to Rodney Wallace, whose first touch snuck past Kann into the net to make it a 2-1 match in the 60th minute. NYCFC would certainly have the better of the play to start the half, and not long after Wallace’s goal, it was Maxi Moralez running it to 3-1 as he took Rodney Wallace’s pass, ran in unmarked and gave Kann no chance as he doubled the margin.
“Today there was nothing positive to take out. We were outplayed by a superior team,” Tata Martino said following the match in comments provided by Atlanta United. “(NYCFC) played with more intensity at the point of attack and controlled the ball better than us.”
It’s certainly been a dubious run of form for Atlanta United over the past five games: draw, loss, win, loss, loss. And it comes at a tough time as well: the Portland Timbers await at an always-hostile Providence Park next Sunday. Martino’s comments provided by the team suggested that he may not make tactical changes going into that one, and with Josef Martinez (potentially) returning, they should receive a much needed boost up top. But it does look like Martino’s patience with Julian Gressel is running thin as the rookie was removed in favor of Chris McCann in the 57th minute after another tough outing.
Fortunately for Atlanta United, it’s a long season, and hopefully the club can hit the training ground ready to button up some lagging issues before playing Portland. A win out on the West Coast would work wonders for their confidence as a strong Houston Dynamo side will be waiting at Bobby Dodd Stadium on May 20.