Atlanta United won its first league match of the season for the first time in its four years of competitive play. The Five Stripes secured three points because the team scored two goals and didn't concede two or more goals. That’s basically the extent of Atlanta’s winning status after confirmation of Josef Martinez’s ACL injury broke out. Sadness.
Atlanta fans can relate to what Nashville fans were feeling on Feb. 29 better than most. Witnessing your local team rise to MLS and partaking in the spectacle of your city’s MLS debut is an awesome experience.
Pity and Josef had taken on the majority of goal scoring duties during the CCL round of 16, but Barco — the final piece of the Triforce puzzle that is PB&J — scored an excellent goal from outside the penalty area to put Atlanta ahead. If he can replicate his inspiring performances while remaining healthy throughout 2020, this could be the season Barco makes a name for himself and leaves for Europe. With Josef out for what appears to be a lengthy spell in the stands, fans will look to Barco to help make up for Josef’s lost production.
Ezequiel Barco with the warm welcome for Nashville. pic.twitter.com/8iv5emmRNi— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 1, 2020
“That’s probably the coolest thing he's ever done in his life.” That’s what an Atlanta United fan yelled out after Hyndman buried a volley into the top right corner, and that fan was probably correct. Hyndman admittedly received some help from a strange non-offside call from the second assistant referee, but the central midfielder took advantage of the situation to put Atlanta United back in front. Considering how much money Hyndman is making after securing a permanent move to Atlanta, more goals like this one would be an excellent return. His performance against Nashville won him the Atlanta United Man of the Match.
What a hit. @emersonhyndman with an absolute rocket. pic.twitter.com/rRjsZqGkJy— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 1, 2020
Due to a string of unfortunate injuries, de Boer’s defensive options are pretty slim. Wyke, signed to ATL UTD 2, signed a Short-Term agreement to provide defensive cover on the bench for the first team. After Escobar couldn’t continue, Wyke stepped into the right center back role to make his Atlanta United and MLS debut. All things considered, Wyke performed strongly and assisted the team take all three points. Now with the backline missing key contributors such as, will Wyke move up to the Atlanta United first team? Congratulations on making your debut, Laurence!
I remember the elation that descended on Bobby Dodd when Yamil Asad scored Atlanta’s first goal against the Red Bulls in 2017. Even though Nashville fell short of winning on its MLS debut, Zimmerman gave Nashville SC cause to celebrate. I’m happy that Nashville fans were able to celebrate a moment like that, and Walker Zimmerman will always be remembered for providing that moment of ecstasy.
Atlanta won the match, but the victory was marred due to injuries to Escobar and Josef. Frank de Boer has already been dealing with a number of injured players, and his already stretched backline took another blow. It seems the team will be without Josef for a large chunk of 2020, and de Boer will ask the Atlanta United front office for a replacement if Josef’s injury is determined to be a longer-term issue. Any amount of time that Josef misses for Atlanta United is a major loss for the team. Let’s hope that Josef is okay in the long term and Atlanta can find a way to cope without the Venezuelan.
The Center Referee
The referee that officiated the match did not have a great night. His most controversial moment occurred during the final moments of the match.
Still baffled, curious what Drew Fischer’s rationale was? pic.twitter.com/bdREdypxuw— Coach Maas (@GregMaas11) March 1, 2020
https://t.co/cvFN4mZbTi pic.twitter.com/dg7xDooPRX— Deondre Jackson (@DeondreJackson_) March 2, 2020