Atlanta United emerged victorious in their final home game of the regular season, defeating the Chicago Fire 2-1 in front of 71,812 fans.
With one game remaining, the Five Stripes are just a point ahead in the race for the Supporters’ Shield and after Sunday’s win, they are within touching distance of the club’s first ever trophy in its history.
As always, there were winners and losers from Sunday’s game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium so without further ado...
On a day where Atlanta United needed a win to stay ahead in the race of silverware, an unlikely hero stepped forward to give them the lead. Franco Escobar’s low-driven cross in the 9th minute found Josef Martinez and while the striker’s attempt was blocked, it made it’s way back to the left foot of Escobar. The right-back curled a low effort past Patrick McClain in Chicago’s goal to score his first career MLS goal.
The unlikely goalscorer gave Atlanta United the lead, and while it was cancelled out later on, Atlanta United managed to retake the lead and hold on for the three points. Escobar’s goal was unexpected and a huge moment for the club as they inched closer to glory.
Technically, the team were winners on the day and took all three points, but they also accomplished a feat for the first time in club history. With Sunday’s win, the club clinched a spot in next season’s CONCACAF Champions League. The accomplishment is one of many that highlights Atlanta United’s rapid rise to success and ensures that next season, the fans will be seeing their side playing outside of the United States.
On top of Champions League qualification, Atlanta United also equalled the MLS record for total points in a season and can break that record on the final day. To top off the record-breaking day, the fans set a new attendance record yet again with a total season attendance of 901,033. All in all, it was a great day for the city of Atlanta.
You are not imagining things, yes, Chris McCann is on the winners column and deservedly so. With his spot at left-back under threat in recent games, McCann was one of the home side’s best performers and provided the cross which resulted in the Chicago own goal.
After a rough string of performances and a few appearances on the losers column, it’s nice to see McCann proving us wrong with a strong performance in one of Atlanta’s most important games of the season.
On a day of so many positives, there were a few downsides and Ezequiel Barco was one of those disappointments. The youngster has struggled for form across the course of the MLS campaign and those struggles continued today has he failed to impress.
Despite playing 86 minutes, Barco failed to trouble the Chicago backline and was one of very few disappointing Atlanta United performers.
The biggest loser of all happens to be the nerves of Atlanta United fans. A Philadelphia Union win over the New York Red Bulls would have ensured the Supporters’ Shield came to Atlanta on Sunday, but alas, a 1-0 for New York meant only a point remained between the two teams.
With one game remaining, the supporters’ nerves will be at an all-time high with a win necessary for silverware. As fans of Atlanta sports fans know, it is to never let your guard down and pray to everything and anything.