Atlanta United scored in the first minute and they scored in the last — and just about about every minute inbetween as they rolled their Eastern Conference playoff rivals by a touchdown. Here’s what we learned from the win over the Revs:
Don’t count Josef Martinez out of the Golden Boot race just yet
Josef Martinez as a potential golden boot winner, might sound insane considering the amount of time he’s missed, but then again, Josef Martinez. But hear me out. The Venezuelan is averaging a goal per game with 13 goals in 13 appearances. But consider that three of those appearances were substitute minutes as he worked his way back to full fitness. If John Fuller’s maths are correct (because he calculated this, so yell at him if he’s wrong), adjusting for partial games, Josef is scoring at a rate of a goal every 72.69 minutes. That figure is 1) insane and 2) somehow understandable to those who have watch him every week and 3) enough to put him somewhere around 23 goals or so by season’s end. It’s not likely, but I’m telling you there’s a chance...
Kevin Kratz is Atlanta’s best free kick taker
But don’t take my word for it!
Anton Walkes told reporters after the match: “Kevin (Kratz) has got that in his locker all day long. He’s done it in practice many times. It’s something he practices a few times a week and he’s definitely mastered the technique.”
Michael Parkhurst added to the plaudit’s for Kratz’s free kick ability, saying, “He does it weekly in training. I’m just glad he got a chance to do it on the stage here tonight because he’s very very talented in those situations. For him to have one chance to go out there and do it is impressive. It’s class.
One more funny bit from Jeff Larentowicz on Kratz: “We had a bet on the bench that he’d put it in. Now the trainer owes us all five bucks.”
The joy of playing the game trumps all for Atlanta
With a four goal lead and a two-man advantage heading into halftime, it would’ve been understandable for Atlanta to come out a little lackluster in the second half. The Revs players admitted postgame that they knew the game was over at that point, and Tata Martino said his players knew it too. But it’s a testament to Atlanta that the team came out focused and still looking to capitalize on mistakes and play an aggressive, attractive brand of soccer. This is the kind of style and philosophy that can help carry an organization for years under consistent management. Players come and go, and coaches come and go too. But if you have a vision for what you want to achieve and hire the right people to bring it to life, you can have sustained success in this league. It’s not impossible.
The Revs seem like a petulant bunch
After Martinez’s second-minute goal, New England played like they knew they no chance to win, and instead resorted to something resembling 1960s Leeds United. It was a brutal display from the Revs, fouling and making the game as physical as possible. Of course, it ended up backfiring. The Revolution picked up a pair of yellow cards in the ensuing minutes following the opening goal, and before you could say “uncle,” Xavier Kouassi was sent off by VAR for raking Yamil Asad’s calf. I suppose this is why New England remains winless on the road this season.
The playoff picture is looking rosy
With the three points in the bag, Atlanta is starting to make up ground quickly in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta jumped up a spot to 5th place in the standings, sitting only one point below Columbus and three points below Chicago — meaning both are reachable within one matchday. But better yet, Atlanta still has games in hand against all its conference opponents including three against Columbus and two against Chicago. In fact, if Atlanta were to win both of its games in hand and all else staying the same, the team would be only 2 points shy of NYCFC, who sits in the coveted second-place position that earns a team a playoff bye. Aside from a Supporters Shield, which Toronto has almost wrapped up, everything is still possible for Atlanta to achieve this season. And based off the way they’re playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium right now, I wouldn’t bet against them.