Atlanta United stormed into Yankee Stadium on Sunday evening and left with a crucial away goal in their 1-0 first leg victory. The win marked the first playoff win in the team’s history and a huge step toward progressing to the next round.
It was fast, it was physical and in the end, Atlanta had a surprise hero to thank for their lone away goal. Here are your winners and losers from the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Who had money on Eric Remedi scoring Atlanta United’s first goal of the postseason? If you did, congratulations on being the weirdest psychic ever. The 23-year old joined Atlanta United in June and had to wait until November to net his first goal for the club, but it came at the perfect time.
The midfielder has been a consistent performer in the heart of Atlanta’s XI since joining and was rewarded on Sunday, bundling the ball over the line to give his side the win on the night and the advantage in the tie itself.
The veteran fullback has returned to Atlanta’s starting lineup and has barely skipped a beat in his return. Garza looked great again on Sunday, constantly threatening down the left side and shoring up his flank defensively.
The fullback even came inches away from doubling Atlanta United’s lead with a thunderous effort in stoppage time, but was denied by a good save.
Garza’s form will be crucial to the Five Stripes’ hopes in the postseason, solidifying a previously weak spot in the starting lineup.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez
Atlanta’s best player on Sunday was hands down, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. He led from the back and constantly thwarted NYCFC’s attacks. In some instances, he may have been a tad overzealous and physical, but he managed to get away with it and asserted his dominance in the heart of Atlanta’s defense. A top performance from one of Atlanta’s leaders.
The winger was subbed on at half time to replace Miguel Almiron, but was subsequently subbed off in the 84th minute. Villalba looked lost in his brief stint on the pitch and really failed to make an impact on the game.
It was a strange showing from Villalba, one that should and will be forgotten about quickly.