Vancouver, B.C. - Josef Martinez converted from the spot and Atlanta United earned an MLS-record fifth-straight clean sheet win as the Five Stripes grinded their way to a club-record fifth-straight win during #FiveStripesAfterDark.
The things that happened in the game that was played
An ugly game deserved an ugly first goal. Pity Martinez received a silly push from behind from a Vancouver player who I genuinely can’t be bothered to look up and Baldomir Toledo awarded Atlanta their second penalty of the season.
Josef, of course, converted from the spot.
A Recap Thought: Not quite the Mariana Trench but definitely a lot more than Rupi Kaur
It’s late and I want this to be quick.
Tonight’s theme was “mid-week charter flight rotation” (MLS: feel the excitement) and the players that rotated in — two of which were making their first start for the Five Stripes — each looked extremely sharp. Five players who would generally not be considered a part of this team’s best 11 played tonight. Justin Meram, Florentin Pogba, Jeff Larentowicz, Tito Villalba and Brek Shea (I think there’s a very good argument that Parky is your best left back when rested ((Shea was good tonight though))) showed qualities that hint at this Atlanta squad being perhaps the deepest of the three editions of Atlanta United.
This year’s schedule is compressed. There are a handful of random international tournaments pulling players away for stretches at a time. With regards to the regular season, this might be the most important year for depth in MLS history. If you’re able to rotate/bring off the bench the five guys listed above throughout the season and have them be as effective as they were tonight then this could be the best bench in the league. Meram played well and, while certainly not anywhere near the level of Zeke, Tito or Julian, seems to fit in well into de Boer’s system. Pogba routinely made line breaking passes from the center back position and appears to uber-coordinated Brek Shea. Jeff Larentowicz is the best player of all-time. Tito...well Tito probably should have scored a couple of times but his role as Atlanta’s super sub is well documented by this point. And Brek did well. No really! Movement seemed a little sharper than normal, overlapped a few times, didn’t give the ball away enough to be infuriating. If you’re bringing him or Parky off the bench or in to rotate, you’re doing well for yourself.
If the new guys continue to acclimate like we hope and the old guys continue to be themselves, this is a team that can continue to outclass the rest of the league even in the roughest stretches of a rough season. Seems good.
DSS Man of the Match
In a night mostly devoid of heroic moments or...umm...anything else for that matter, I’m giving it to LGP. Somewhat because he was pretty good and has been an instrumental part in the team’s MLS-record five-straight clean sheets, but mostly because his actions tonight led to this...
Larentowicz Man of the Match (Your unsung hero(es))
I don’t know their names. I may never know their names. But I know their hearts. And tonight, far away from the comforts and joys of Atlanta and forced to stream the match through ESPN+ and thus confronted with the two men you see before you, I saw darkness. I saw pain. Canadian pain. The kind of pain that knocks a few times before entering your room just to make sure it was respecting your privacy, ya know, but still makes it’s presence known when it enters, but also wants to just make sure you’re comfortable but hurts so deeply.
What causes pain? Is it love? Does that what we once have but now long for force our spirits to wrestle with past joys while staring straight ahead into the eyes of what might be? What could be? What’s been lost? But yet, I concede that not all of us have love. But all of us have pain. So then it must be that pain is a creation of circumstance. And with love, it dovetails and intertwines and creates substance in our lives. But what happens when someone has never known love? I believe that is when anger consumes us. These men have never known love. There is only anger. But even still, they have somehow turned pain into it’s only positive byproduct: Art.
Tonight I saw darkness but I experienced art.
A player lays down after a head to head collision: “Embarrassing.”
A player is ran into by another and receives a blow to the shin, the player lays down: “He can’t keep getting away with this.”
Two of many North American countries are tuned in to the match: “This is not what North Americans want to see.”
A player is fouled twice, not fouled another but, himself, has been fouled: “How has he not been sent off?”
To commit one’s life to art...No, to embalm your entire being with the spirit of art, is a noble pursuit. The performance art of not just spraying a few Alpharetta Dad takes throughout a broadcast but letting the broadcast become consumed by Alpharetta Dad takes so the takes become something greater, something angry Dadder, something...Canada Dad...well it’s one of the most noble pursuits of living up to the responsibility of owning your given talents that I have ever seen.
Tonight I salute you, angry, Canadian men. For you are ticked off, eh. And you are ticked off at everything, eh. And you don’t know why you’re ticked off at everything, eh. And that ticks you off, eh.
Tweet of the Night
team looks good to me— Tiotal Football (@TiotalFootball) May 16, 2019
Sunday. Red Bulls. 5 p.m. EST. Chris Armas blew it.