ATLANTA, Ga. - A 74th minute goal from Julian Gressel handed Atlanta United a desperately wanted win, as the Five Stripes overcame a lackluster performance in the final third for their first home win of the season.
The things that happened in the game that was played
The first 74 minutes of this one were a whole big ball of nothingness. Few, if any, real chances for both teams. Just a spin cycle of boring that went “Watch Atlanta attack, Watch Colorado sit back, Watch Atlanta get fouled, Watch Atlanta create nothing, Repeat.” It was truly trash, unappealing soccer.
But finally. Mercifully. The Five Stripes broke through at home and the encompassing sense of dread around Mercedes-Benz Stadium dissipated.
Quality pressure up front to open the score @darlingtonnagbe ➡ @JulianGressel pic.twitter.com/3FcT4D5EGB— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) April 27, 2019
At least until Colorado peppered a few chances toward goal. Then the dread came back. But only for a few moments. Atlanta held on against a team that “parked two busses” according to Frank de Boer.
“Two teams have to try to play football. There was only one team who tried to win the game. It gets hard when teams play like this. You have to have fantastic play. Even the big teams in Europe have problems with this kind of system they played.”
A Recap Thought: So not to be negative but
Colorado certainly did park at least one bus. An early goal changed things against Dallas. Atlanta won tonight. But the Five Stripes looked much sharper and much more aware of the direction they were supposed to be heading in last weekend’s loss. The result comes tonight — and that’s fun and good and the correct outcome against a terrible, terrible team — but Atlanta played down to their level and appeared to regress after two straight weeks of at least passable execution.
How much of that is on de Boer? Some of it. Unquestionably. But at the same time players like Pity Martinez just aren’t cutting it right now. The decision to play Pity as a 10 and shift Barco wide made little sense upon the initial lineup release and well into the game. Barco, predictably, struggled to become involved out wide despite Colorado starting a 16-year-old center back, and Pity struggled for most of the match to......do lots of things. He has been far less than up to par through his first two months in Atlanta. De Boer chalked up Pity’s struggles tonight to inexperience and a lack of fitness.
“Maybe he was not at his best play, but it doesn’t matter because it’s his first time starting there. He has to get used to it, he has to get used to the surface and everything, and also the style of play in MLS of course but yeah he’s our number 10 normally. We want him close to Josef Martinez, they have a good combination,” de Boer said.
“He didn’t really start in preseason, he had an injury, it was the first time that he started after a long period. Training is not as good as the game. Everybody that has played knows it. He’s getting there.”
Right now, it’s hard to even imagine Pity as the South American Player of the Year we thought would torture MLS at unprecedented levels. To his credit, he doesn’t appear apathetic about his rough start. He’s visibly upset on the field at times. But right now I don’t think it’s unfair to say that it is easier to imagine the overall struggles of the team being corrected than Pity playing a key role in that correction.
That’s not to say it won’t happen for Pity this year, but the start has been less than stellar and far, far less than expected and needed.
Overall, it’s win that’s a “singles night at an Orlando-area Applebees” level of ugly against the worst team in the league. But my god if it isn’t a relief to get three points at home.
I dunno y’all, look, I think that first half broke me and somehow turned me into a DSS commenter. I may hate all of this tomorrow, but I’m leaving the stadium tonight less optimistic than before.
DSS Man of the Match
The staff could not reach a consensus despite a win. This was a strange one, y’all.
Larentowicz Man of the Match (Your unsung hero(es))
The people who decided to open the roof this week. Nice job, y’all.
Quote of the Night
“This victory tastes very sweet because the team that deserved the win gets the three points.” - FdB
Tweet of the Night
ATLANTA UNITED WINS THE POSSESSION AND THE ACTUAL GAME AND IT WASN'T PRETTY BUT MY GOSH WE MISSED WINNING AT HOME— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) April 28, 2019
All this so I can ask you, for the first time in 15 years...
THEM FIVE STRIPES IS HELL, DON'T THEY???
Atlanta travels to Kansas City, Kansas to face Sporting KC. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. EST on May 5.