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Winners and losers from Atlanta United’s dramatic comeback vs. San Jose Earthquakes

The positives and negatives from the most ridiculous game in recent memory.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at San Jose Earthquakes John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United *somehow* managed to pull off a thrilling 4-3 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night, despite a disappointing performance for 75% of the match.

With that being said, we take a look at those who covered themselves in glory and those who struggled mightily.


Tito Villalba

The winger was one of Atlanta United’s bright spots on the night and continued to threaten San Jose’s backline all evening. His constant desire to run at defenders and cause problems gave Atlanta an outlet on a night that they desperately needed one.

His stunning goal pulled the score back to 2-1 in first half stoppage time, giving Atlanta hope heading into the second half.


Finally, the Video Assistant Referee works in the favor of Atlanta United. After Chris Wondolowski gave San Jose a 4-1 lead, VAR was used to disallow the goal and eventually award the away side a penalty. From 4-1 down to 3-2 down, that single decision flipped the entire game on it’s head.

The penalty incident occurred 31 seconds before Wondolowski’s goal, but the decision to award the spot-kick took far longer. In summary, the penalty decision was correct and VAR was used correctly, albeit slowly.

Josef Martinez

The Venezuelan spent much of the game frustrated by his lack of opportunities and constantly losing his footing on the pitch. Martinez didn’t let the frustration cloud his ability and when it mattered most, Atlanta’s talisman stepped up and took control.

His calmly taken penalty got Atlanta back in the game at 3-2, before he eventually rose like a phoenix from the ashes to head in Miguel Almiron’s cross to make it 4-3. When his team needed him most, Major League Soccer’s record goalscorer came to their rescue.


Franco Escobar

It couldn’t have been a rougher night for the fullback, who struggled from the first whistle onwards. Escobar continuously gave the ball away and seemed to struggle with the pace of the game throughout. The 23-year old lost his man on multiple occasions and just looked out of place more often than not, allowing San Jose to attack down his flank with plenty of success.

Eventually making way after 70 minutes, it was an evening to forget for Franco Escobar.

Michael Parkhurst

As much as we love Parkhurst, it is a little worrying to see his current stretch of form. The Atlanta United captain has struggled in recent games and that continued on Wednesday evening in the Bay Area.

The 34-year old was at fault for San Jose’s second goal, getting shrugged off the ball too easily by Danny Hoesen. While it may be a small run of bad form, it’s unfortunate to see Parkhurst making mistakes.

Chris McCann

Like his fellow fullback, McCann had a night to forget in San Jose. Tasked with marking Nick Lima, the Irishman lost his man at the back post and allowed Lima to head past Brad Guzan to open the scoring. His poor positioning and defensive effort also allowed Valeri Qazaishvili to ghost into the box and curl in San Jose’s third goal of the night.

A frustrating night for McCann meant that both of Atlanta’s fullbacks highlighted what was a bad performance from Tata Martino’s side.

While Atlanta still came away with all three points, it was a poor defensive performance that was highlighted by a handful of mistakes from the likes of McCann, Parkhurst, etc. Thankfully, it’s unlikely that we see the Five Stripes perform this poorly again this season and the defense should bounce back quickly.