Are there enough superlatives in the English language to describe what happened Wednesday night? I’m not sure, and I don’t know if even want to try. No, check that, I will, in two words: total domination. And I’m not talking some tacky MMPORG.
About the most unique issue for this game, as far as the individual players are concerned, is that Rookie of the Year front-runner Julian Gressel did not play, missing a game for the first time this season, and therefore in his career.
How about a quick look at the heatmap, just for kicks, as usual, thanks to whoscored.com:
It’s pretty obvious that United love their new home. We have been referring to t as the Benz, but I’m wondering if that isn’t enough of a moniker. Fort Benz, perhaps? Or, maybe, with a nod to the Chicago Cubs who have their Friendly Confines at Wrigley Field, how about the Friendly Wide Open Spaces?
On with the motley. Here are this week’s (second) Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
Man of the Match honors are an easy call. Brad Guzan put up a performance such as we have not seen from an American goalkeeper since Tim Howard’s heroic game against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup. Stringing together some monumental saves…oh, sorry, slipped into an alternate universe for a moment. Horrible place it was too. Back in our reality, Josef Martinez gets his second straight nod for finishing the game off early, then finishing it off again a few minutes later, and finishing it off a third time just a few minutes after that. Apparently he’s a belt, suspenders and drawstring kind of guy. He also gets extra credit for hugging and kissing the upright and hanging off the crossbar. Special Mention goes to Kevin Kratz for his spectacular free kick goal. Do that again, Kevin. A lot. Who thought we would see three set piece goals in an Atlanta game?
GK: Brad Guzan – 7. Forget Mr. Clean Sheet; how about Mr. Clean Uniform? With this game, Brad’s saves average at the Benz dropped to a miserable 1. That’s right, he has a grand total of 2 saves under the roof. In fact, his showing Wednesday night was so poor, he had the lowest Audi Index score among all Atlanta players (which was still better than all but two Revs).
RB: Anton Walkes – 8. Other than his goal, Anton had probably his best game of the season. He had a total of 96 passes, easily the best on the team. Of those, 61 were in the attacking half. As for the goal, goals scored by a fullback assisted by the other fullback (Greg Garza in this case) are fairly rare, but this is at least the second time this year Atlanta has done it (Garza assisted by Tyrone Mears at Vancouver).
CB: Michael Parkhurst – 7. Had limited defensive responsibilities, and was therefore able to push far further upfield than is usual for him, and probably had a ver7 entertaining evening doing stuff he doesn’t often get to do.
CB: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez – 6.5. The yellow card was silly, and earned him a suspension, although as it turned out just moments later, he would likely be a scratch for the injury he picked up anyway. He gets credit for refusing to allow the injury to mar his usually perfectly coiffed do, insisting on a bandage stylishly matching his uniform. Subbed out after 76 minutes.
LB: Greg Garza – 7. Greg had two highlights on the night: his assist on Walkes’ goal, and his cheeky pre-game comment that he has a place in history as the first American to Score in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Subbed out at half time, apparently for a muscle injury. We are holding our collective breath on that one.
CM: Jeff Larentowicz – 7. Put in a solid 61 minutes, and managed to avoid picking up a yellow card in the process. As with Parky, he had little to do in defense.
CM: Carlos Carmona – 8. Another guy with a fun evening, C-Squared was way upfield all night and even got a shot in, although it went rather poorly off target. No cards for Carlos, either.
CAM: Miguel Almiron – 9. Another game-high Audi Index of 1052. Talking about Miggy gets kind of repetitive. He had 3 shots, and graciously and wisely gave up the free kick to Kevin Kratz. All around, another great game. As usual.
LW: Yamil Asad – 8. Apparently Xavier Kouassi decided that Asad’s #2 ranking in the most fouled player category is not good enough, and managed to foul him twice on one play. The second was of course complete overkill, the first one being a red card after video review. However, the hobbling attempt didn’t work very well, as Yamil went on to score a goal later.
RW: Tito Villalba – 7. Probably not quite as good as Sunday’s game, but very solid nonetheless. Also played the full 90, which he hasn’t done too often lately. Had a good chance on goal, which was denied by Cody Cropper in one of the 3 saves he actually managed to make on Wednesday.
FWD: Josef Martinez – 9. After Sunday’s game I said, “He will destroy weaker defenses on this field.” He didn’t take long to prove me right. However, I didn’t say that they would try to destroy him too. Didn’t work out for them too well, though, did it?
SUB: Chris McCann – 7. Replaced Garza at half time. Had probably his best outing in an Atlanta uniform, although his long-range shot was waaay off-target.
SUB: Kevin Kratz – 8. Came on for Jeff Larentowicz. I’ve already noted his free kick goal (his first for United), and it was an absolute beauty. Best goal of the evening on style points.
SUB: Tyrone Mears – 7. Took over for LGP. Didn’t have a lot to do in his 14 minutes except pass the ball accurately. You know, like everyone else.
COACH: Tata Martino – 8. Best post-game quote evah.
Martino: we're playing great, but we should remember we are the same team that lost three games to DC United. #ATLUTD— Eric Quintana (@EricGQuintana) September 14, 2017
TV BROADCAST: 7. Fox Sports South is definitely getting better, in my opinion. Green and Gargan are developing a chemistry, and absolutely nailed it predicting the free kick. Best part for me though was the shot of Cody Cropper staring up at the halo board after every goal.