Atlanta, Ga. - The Galaxy netted two own goals and Josef Martinez scored for the ninth-straight game as Atlanta United dominated from the outset in a 3-0 win.
The things that happened in the game that was played
After a hectic opening that included a couple of poor finishes on big chances for Atlanta, the Galaxy were nice enough to do the finishing for them.
An electric start ⚡️— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) August 3, 2019
A deserved lead
Barco ➡️ Pity ➡️ Back of the net pic.twitter.com/kcL26Pjnvb
And then graciously felt like doubling down.
Relentless pressure.— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) August 3, 2019
We don't stop.
Make it ✌️ for Atlanta pic.twitter.com/QzpMKoKGkS
Atlanta controlled the game the rest of the way and were even able to score a goal of their own as Josef stepped up to the spot and found the back of the net for the ninth-straight game, tying his and Diego Valeri’s MLS record.
A Recap Thought: Ezequiel makes everything better (Now if he could please do it on the road please please please)
Atlanta came out sharp tonight in front of 72,000-plus fans, didn’t relent for a single moment and overran Jonathan Dos Santos and company on the way to another home win for Atlanta, who have matched LAFC for the most home wins on the season.
Atlanta United is possibly the best home team in MLS — save for maybe LAFC, a hydrogen bomb in MLS form. Tonight, they may have had their sharpest match of the entire season, home or away.
“Today we were focused and you see what we’re capable of,” Frank de Boer said. “In the beginning, maybe the first 20 minutes, there were some tough transition moments. After 20 minutes we had more control and chances. I’m really proud of the team and they stayed concentrated for 90 minutes.”
The intensity coupled with an improved sense of creativity going forward led to what my dear friend Joe Patrick called, “A paddlin.”
LAG clearly missed a few key players tonight, but earlier in the year Atlanta wouldn’t have pounced on the opportunities they had tonight in the same way. They would have been unsure of themselves and the system to do so. It helps of course when you bring back perhaps the most critical piece of the 2019 Atlanta United puzzle.
Ezequiel Barco attacked space, created and, maybe most crucially, opened up space for others that they hadn’t had since Barco’s last game in May.
“Earlier in the year we’re playing 5-4-1 and Pity Martinez is picking his head up and seeing basically Josef and that’s it,” Jeff Larentowicz, a genius, said.
“I think the Monterrey game is a good example. He didn’t have someone to play with. He needs an extra body, he needs someone talking about spaces, he needs someone that can actually draw defenders so that he can have space once he gets on it. I think tonight is a perfect example. I think the balance from right to left was really good for him. That’s really all down to having the right guys on the field that can create some offensive pressure.”
That added space and interplay, as well as some excellent wing play, as well as some brilliant one on one defending from Miles Robinson, as well as some phenomenal effort to control the game in the midfield from Darlington Nagbe and Larentowicz, as well just a really damn good game from just about everyone meant that Atlanta picked up three points and now sits tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Although, don’t let that fool you too much.
“We’re six points from the last place playoff spot, currently we’re on 39 points in first place,” Jeff Larentowicz, for real a genius, said. “It means as little as it can possibly mean to be in first right now. Frankly, right now we’re there and that’s good but it’s deceiving.”
If Atlanta wants to separate themselves from the rest of the cluttered East then they’re going to have to give some of the same effort we see at home on road trips. The Five Stripes’ road record is the worst of any team above the playoff line in either conference. With six road games left in the season, a US Open Cup semifinal and a potential road playoff game all on the horizon, Atlanta will need to find a way to replicate their home performances fast. Zeke and others will certainly help, but both Larentowicz and de Boer insisted they needed more than just a few returning players.
“We have to understand that this is the standard. We have to keep this up,” de Boer said. “Tuesday we have to do the same. If we don’t do it or someone is not doing his role then we can be punished. We have to try and avoid that. If we keep the concentration again with that intensity I think it’s difficult to beat us.”
For Larentowicz, upholding that standard means starting each game with intensity, not just finishing with after they’re already down.
“I think that the first thing is the way we start games on the road. You can see at home we put teams under pressure, we force them into turnovers. Tonight we might have exposed ourselves a little too much but that’s the risk reward,” Larentowicz, possibly the smartest person on the planet, said. “On the road in the last few games we haven’t been on the front foot. I don’t think we’ve come out with the right intensity and put the team under pressure. We scored the first goal in LA last week but really other than that they dictated the rest of the half.”
It hopefully shouldn’t be hard to do that against a rival in a cup semifinal on Tuesday, and they should feel a renewed sense of confidence after responding to a tough road trip with a fantastic performance. Not only a tough road trip if we’re being honest, but players saying one too many things to the media, surgeries, rumors of leaving for Spain, etc. etc. They could have let it snowball. Today they didn’t. And that makes this as impressive a win as the team has had all year.
At the very least, for this week, they can focus on bringing intensity without having to worry about anyone saying anything negative in the media. Not even DSS.
DSS Man of the Match
MILES ROBINSON BABBBYYYYYYY
Dude was so good. Was constantly put in one on situations and absolutely ruined whatever Not Zlatan got thrown at him. That poor, poor human. Miles is excellent and still th
Obviously, Zeke also had a great game. He barely lost out in the super unofficial and extremely hurried DSS slack vote.
Larentowicz Man of the Match
Meram did better at left wingback than he probably had any right to. Even if Shea and Ambrose were healthy right now, Meram would still be the best option. Justin, your check is in the mail.
Nagbe was also fantastic but that’s not entirely new. Larentowicz as well. Everyone was good honestly.
Quote of the Night
Pretty much Josef’s entire interview. Highlights include:
Josef on Tuesday’s Open Cup game with Orlando: The cup is one thing, the regular season is another. Playing in a semifinal you have to play with a knife in between your teeth, so tonight we’re going to go home and enjoy this win and tomorrow plan.
Josef on playing with Pity and Barco again: It’s not the first time I’ve played with Pity and Barco but I’m happy with whoever is giving me the ball. So if you’re playing and you’re giving me the ball I’ll be happy. [Author’s note: He then said a bunch of nice things about Zeke and Pity after it just wasn’t as fun as this.]
Josef on Orlando fans: You go home you always get a reception like that. That’s why they love me so much.
Tweet of the Night
Atlanta United playing like a team that just had a coming together moment created by conflict and is now entering the "Upbeat and fun montage" part of the movie— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) August 3, 2019