Atlanta United clinched their spot in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals for the second straight season on Tuesday. A comfortable 3-0 win over Motagua in the Round of 16 second leg booked the Five Stripes’ spot in the next round where they will face either Club America or Comunicaciones.
It was the Pity and Josef show as the Super Martinez Bros put on a scintillating attacking display en route to the one-sided victory. Here are a few thoughts on the performance.
- It’s important to stay measured and calm after just one Round of 16 matchup against a team that Atlanta United is clearly better than. However, it must be said that this match was a perfect example of why Frank de Boer has gotten it exactly right with his interesting choice of a 3-4-3 (3-4-2-1) formation. Ignoring all of the noise of who the squad lost in the offseason, the most obvious facet the team needed to improve on was the production of their Non-Josef DPs. Getting the most out of Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco was always a the biggest need and Frank has put both in great spots on the field with this setup. Having both players tucked inside behind Josef without the responsibility of defending the wings is crucial. Also, this look is more beneficial than a traditional 4-3-3 that would see both tuck in naturally and leave gaps on both flanks. I truly believe this formation is the ideal one to get the best out of both players.
- The issue with the 3-4-2-1 is that the roster isn’t complete with players to properly fill the roles required just yet. The left wingback spot is still very much up in the air with no clear answer. Jake Mulraney was solid in his first official appearance for the club, but there still feels like there could be more in that role. Obviously two-man midfield is the biggest concern in the formation, especially in matches that you don’t dominate like this one. Hopefully once Matheus Rossetto is available we’ll get a clearer picture of what the midfield pairing could be.
- This is the Pity Martinez that Atlanta United paid for. This performance was the most confident Pity has looked since his arrival last winter. The adjustment period seems to be slowly fading away to reveal a more comfortable and happy Pity Martinez. He was so good on the night that he even somehow scored for Bayern Munich. If this is the version of him that shows up on a consistent basis this season, Atlanta United are going places.
- Can we see more of Luiz Fernando, please? I don’t care if he fits the squad or not, just please let him keep humiliating everybody.