Atlanta United won their second in a row on Saturday evening with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire. Josef Martinez netted both goals as the Five Stripes enter their upcoming three-week break on good terms. Here are some thoughts.
There was just something about this match that I found enjoyable. The attack just felt different. Whether the players were up for it and in the mood or they’re just getting more familiar with the new system or maybe a bit of both. It felt a little bit like old times with the crowd buzzing and the attack swarming.
The statistics aren’t glowing. In fact, Chicago had a slightly better overall Expected Goals total than Atlanta thanks to a few great chances. But something just felt good. Maybe it was the first goal with Pity Martinez and Josef Martinez finally combining to perfection like we all imagined they would. The movement, the runs, the imagination, it all just felt better.
My only complaint in the attacking end is the failure to capitalize on the numerous counter-attacking chances in the second half. It’s important to convert on one of those when a team is trailing and forced to come out of their shell. A goal there and you completely kill the game and nullify any chance of a fluke comeback.
This wasn’t the perfect game by any means. Chicago got their fair share of chances and could’ve made it a different game if they had finished a few. But I was peeled to the action for the entirety and it always felt like the attack was threatening. Maybe it’s a me thing and I was just in a good mood. Or maybe the team is finally getting a better understanding of themselves and their manager.
The demise of Josef Martinez has been greatly exaggerated. The league’s single-season goal king and reigning MVP is starting to hit his stride. He’s notched five goals in his last three games and increased his season total in MLS to 10. Just like the attack in general, it appears that Josef is growing more and more comfortable with Frank de Boer’s system. While he’s still dropping deeper in the formation to connect the play, he’s starting to combine with his teammates more effectively and getting on the end of some nice plays. Hopefully the three-week break isn’t coming at a bad time and he’ll pick up right where he left off later this month.
Is It Science Or Love?
Momma said love is not an overnight thing. Chemistry developing.— H.A.Hibbert (@Reakus3) June 2, 2019
One could argue this was Pity Martinez’s best performance as an Atlanta player. And while his goal against Orlando was good, his involvement in the first goal is undoubtedly his best moment in the red and black.
These two are just getting started— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) June 1, 2019
Lethal from Pity and Josef pic.twitter.com/nUNBtonnU7
They’ve shown glimpses of this throughout the first three months, but the final pass has just gone missing. It finally came off and it was beautiful. Pity’s quality is evident. No matter your opinion of his performance thus far, his talent is undeniable. The patience and technique required to slip in a perfect ball like that is something special.
Let’s hope this is the start of what we all envisioned when Pity was signed. There’s just too much talent between Josef, Pity and Barco to not form one of the deadliest attacks this league has seen. If it’s all just a matter of chemistry, Josef seems to think they’re heading in the right direction.