After 17 matches, Atlanta United finally did it! In the last away match, the Five Stripes managed their first draw in a road game of the season. It was a weird match, to say the least. The first half was forgettable, while the second was a wild ride that saw a sensational team goal by Julian Gressel and VAR rob Atlanta of the full points.
I’m going to try something different. Usually I’m the Debbie Downer, pointing out the bad things. We’ve had enough of that. I’m going to try and stay optimistic when looking at this pretty decent performance. Here goes...
- Is Jeff Larentowicz the answer to the midfield woes? I really like Eric Remedi. I don’t think there’s any doubt about his talent. But, I’m definitely starting to get the feeling that Larentowicz is just a better fit for what Atlanta needs in a holding midfielder. Remedi’s mentality is to go box-to-box as much as possible, while Larry’s is to be that calming influence at all costs. Any time the veteran is in there, the midfield just feels more connected and composed. While Montreal’s talent certainly isn’t NYCFC’s, the change in midfield mentality was a big reason for the improved performance in this match.
- It’s hard not to be excited about Ezequiel Barco’s 30-minute cameo at the end. He looked as lively as he did early in the season and at the U-20 World Cup. His form began to dip later in the season, but if we’re getting early season Barco back for the playoffs, it would be a huge boost to Atlanta’s repeat hopes.
- Let’s talk about THAT goal. Julian Gressel’s goal was something truly special. We’ve seen nice team goals in the past. Most of them involved the likes of Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez and/or Darlington Nagbe, the usual suspects. Emerson Hyndman and Gressel combining and pulling off that piece of magic was something beautiful. Gressel continues to prove he’s worth a lot more money than he’s being paid.
- Imagine how mad we’d all be right now if that disallowed goal had cost Atlanta United the top seed or something important. That’s something to be thankful for, in my opinion. Instead, it’s whatever.
- As of writing we don’t have a definite picture of what the playoff seedings will look like. Nevertheless, it’s likely the Five Stripes will have to win at least one away match to win the cup. This performance was encouraging on that front. They are capable of being competent away from home. If Josef returns in time and Barco is approaching his best form, they can beat anyone on talent alone. That’s why you should be optimistic heading into the postseason.