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Recap: Atlanta United advances to CCL Quarterfinal with 4-0 win

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Kennesaw ain’t been nothing but good to us.

KENNESAW, Ga. - Entering the second leg needing a 2-0 win or better, Atlanta United doubled up the minimum result needed with a 4-0 mollywhopping of C.S. Herediano to advance to the quarterfinal round of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The things that happened in the game that was played

Well, the game started with JOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSEEEEEEEEEFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

and then things calmed down for like eight minutes before

GREESSSEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

Atlanta would put two more shots on target by the end of the half, but after a furious start, things stayed relatively calm. The Five Stripes took the 2-0 lead they needed to advance into the locker room.

A little insurance never hurt anyone though.

In the 63rd minute, Josef added a third.

Twenty odd minutes later, Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez called game and Atlanta began booking a hotel in Monterrey.

A Recap Thought: Same puzzle, different pieces used more better.

The tweaks Frank de Boer and Atlanta United made between last Thursday and tonight immediately paid off. Brek Shea and Darlington Nagbe entered the lineup, Michael Parkhurst moved centrally in the back three while Miles Robinson moved to the right, Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez un-inverted themselves, and Atlanta pressed higher and with more energy from the outset. The result was a thorough destruction of Herediano and a team that suddenly looked well-drilled and confident.

“We’re going to play this tournament we need 30 players, not just 11 guys. We need everyone on the roster who is able to step up,” manager Frank de Boer said post-match. “I’ve seen some of the data from the match and Eric [Remedi] and Darlington [Nagbe] were the two players who touched the ball the most tonight. That’s what we want. We don’t want the three center backs on the ball being the guys who touch it the most. But really I have to give applause to the whole team. All the players played well tonight.”

The Five Stripes looked more fluid in attack. The width that had been desperately missing in Heredia was ever present, allowing Shea to bag an assist and Gressel to fire home the second goal of the evening. Josef did Josef things. And maybe most importantly, the Five Stripes were never caught out going forward like they were so many times last week in Costa Rica.

“Today you saw the style we can play. We pressed a bit higher up with Gonzalo and Josef and we got the result. The positive things you saw was what I already saw in training which was the chemistry of the whole team and they had the feeling of ‘This feels good.’” de Boer said.

The best news on a night full of good news for Atlanta United fans is that FdB feels that the Atlanta United Death Star isn’t even completely operational. But it is close.

“We are in the seventh week now,” de Boer said. “And we’re getting close to 100%.”

The quicker they can get there the better. Monterrey awaits. No matter what, tonight was a leap in the right direction.

DSS Man of the Match

Josef. Long live The King.

Larentowicz Man of the Match - (Your unsung hero(es))

Ezequiel Barco pressed relentlessly the entire night. He looks crisp and aggressive going forward as well. He grabbed a pair of assists. He even shot the ball twice tonight. One was way closer than the other, but still. It may have been Zeke’s best performance in the stripes and FdB had high praise for the teenager.

“Unbelievable. I want to give a big compliment to him. The most important is work on the speed that he does things. I think he missed a chance and he was sprinting back for a sprint of 30 or 40 yards. It’s unbelievable,” de Boer said.

“A player in his position needs to be more decisive but of course he’s very young. It all starts with this kind of ability this kind of energy. And then gets confidence when he gets stronger and then getting experience in situations where he can get goals and assists. I’m very happy for him, he’s looking very good and he can be a fantastic player for Atlanta United.”

Additionally, Robinson did a phenomenal job. He’s remarkably fast and it allows him to make up for any mistakes made by teammates or even himself. He showed that speed a few times tonight. When he wasn’t cleaning up messes, he was putting in solid work. Don’t expect him to leave the back three anytime soon.

Remedi = Also good.

Shea = Looks like Tilda Swinton. Also, also good.

Gressel is a super-powered swiss army knife.

Nearly everyone was excellent tonight. We need more awards.

Quote of the Night

“Everybody has his role on the team. And sometimes you can change their role or their position but you have to execute well. Don’t run out of position or something like that. I think the discipline and what we did today, that’s the foundation of how we want to play. We’re also dominating when we don’t have the ball. Today it was much much better.”

— FdB

Tweet of the Night

What’s Next?

Atlanta United opens the MLS Season on Sunday in D.C. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. The Five Stripes will face Monterrey in the quarterfinal round next week. The date and time will be announced on Friday.

“Monterrey is a great team,” de Boer said. “They’re first in the Mexican league for a reason. It’s going to be a totally different challenge for us.”

Them Five Stripes is Hell?

They do.