ATLANTA, Ga. - Atlanta United won its fourth game in five tries as the club powered its way to its first win over Toronto in team history.
The things that happened in the game that was played
In his first start as the Ezequiel Barco replacement, Tito found himself in the right place at the right time after a deflected Pity Martinez free kick to put the Five Stripes up 1-0 early.
For Tito, the opener was his first goal of the 2019 season. For Josef Martinez, his first assist.
Atlanta continued to apply relentless pressure to Toronto. The chances were there but the end result went AWOL until the 67th minute, when finally...
It could have been much worse for Drake’s team. Toronto failed to put a shot on target on eight attempts while Atlanta piled on 19 shots.
A Recap Thought: Things that are back (abridged ((unranked)))
- Texas (duh)
- The Jonas Brothers apparently
- High waisted shorts
- South American Player of the Year Pity Martinez
- Not Toronto
- Atlanta United
First, let’s address #4.
Pity put in his best shift in the Five Stripes tonight. He made creative decision after creative decision, found teammates with through balls repeatedly, and nearly had a few magical moments of free kicks and long range shots. He’s beginning to show signs of the player we initially thought was coming to Atlanta and that is terrifying for the rest of MLS. It feels like we’re one goal away from Pity being fully unleashed.
Second, let’s address #2.
I really don’t get it. Honestly.
Third, let’s address #8.
That’s three consecutive shutouts for Atlanta. Four wins in the last five games. Atlanta has outscored teams 9-2 over the last five games. And most importantly, they’ve begun to look extremely comfortable doing it. There is a defined sense of purpose becoming apparent in each decision the team makes. Players are making moves and they know exactly why they’re making them. Players are no longer standing in place, unsure of what they need to do and paralyzed by the idea they might make a misstep in this new system. It’s not exactly functioning at full throttle yet, but the Atlanta United machine is closer than it ever has been under Frank de Boer, and the progression is practically linear. There is week to week improvement (excluding that Colorado game, please stop bringing it up) and everyone, including de Boer is noticing.
“The last two weeks on the training ground I’ve seen the respect for each other growing, the work rate increasing, everything. You see the confidence growing,” de Boer said. “Maybe not directly in the results but you’ve already seen we’ve improved a lot in this game. We can improve and we have to improve, but it’s a big step forward against a good opponent today.”
Atlanta United looked aggressive and confident tonight, and the result is a team that is not only suddenly winning games, but is once again an absolute joy to watch. But don’t let any of this distract you from the fact that Barcelona blew a three goal lead.
DSS Man of the Match
Whatever worries we had about losing Ezequiel Barco were non-existent — at least for tonight — thanks in no small part to Tito. There were a few moments of “Classic Tito” where the touch wasn’t perfect or the shot wasn’t, ya know, close, but he was excellent more times than poor. The opening goal got things going and the Five Stripes never looked back.
Larentowicz Man of the Match (Your unsung hero(es))
Darlington Nagbe is remarkable. When he’s on, there’s likely no in MLS better at retaining possession in midfield. He did so countless times tonight in situations where literally anyone else would have lost the ball. Maybe his best shift of the year. Watching the interplay between him and Pity is magic. Darlington, your award is in the mail.
Tweet of the Night
Orlando. Sunday. 2:30 p.m. EST. Be there. I hate them.