Scoring late and winning is a lot better than scoring early and losing. The match against Colorado was like having elation constantly ripped from your grasp while the occasional meek and futile efforts of the Rapids caused not so much heart attacks as much as chuckles as if their attempts on goal were mere irony.
Atlanta United thoroughly debunked the notion that not having the ball and not playing soccer are legitimate strategies for trying to win a game. The Colorado Rapids lost both the tangible and intangible battles in the match with the human spirit evading their grasp as Atlanta broke through their defense time and time again only to be stopped by Tim Howard, who was brilliant. The Five Stripes managed 9 legit chances against Colorado and at times it seemed like they wouldn’t put the ball in the net.
United getting a shot saved off of a bicycle kick saved made it seem like the universe was conspiring against them.
Josef Martinez even managed to put himself in scoring position after his initial shot was blocked - look, Tim Howard clears the ball off of Martinez’s head and it nearly goes in the net:
But nothing will stop this team, it has Josef Martinez: unstoppable fire mutant.
LIKE A PHOENIX RISING FROM THE ASHES JOSEF MARTINEZ HAS EMERGED OUT OF COLORADO’S CYNICAL HOPELESSNESS TO LEAD US TO THE GLORY LAND. HE IS THE DRAGON LAYING WASTE TO ALL THAT IS CRUEL AND EVIL IN THE WORLD.
I’m going to re-write Shakespeare's play The Tempest to include this line in honor of the goal:
“Now I will believe that there are unicorns; that in Atlanta there is one pyro box, the phoenix's throne, one phoenix at this hour reigning down goals there, and his name is Josef Martinez.”
Also, if you look closely I’m pretty sure Yamil Asad tries to punch the fire while celebrating.
The game ended on familiar and slightly terrifying play - a set piece against a team with big physical players. Luckily, the Five Stripes have Alec Kann and after a tense moment, he emerged with the ball in his arms. It was a pretty nervy moment and Kann’s response when he looks at the play on the video replay says it all:
Kann kept pretty cool after he stood up with the ball in his hand and seemed to never even stop chewing his gum, but there was no player on the Five Stripes who was gladder than Kann when the final whistle blew.