Atlanta United snapped a six-match winless streak on Wednesday night with a 1-0 win over FC Dallas. Jeff Larentowicz’s game-winning penalty in the second half only tells a fraction of the story. The Five Stripes turned in their most complete performance in a long time, chocked full of effort, grit and glimpses of a distinguishable style of play forming. Here are a few thoughts on a match that was a breath of fresh air into the lungs of the Atlanta United community.
- That was the most fun I’ve had watching Atlanta United play in a long time. Was it the prettiest soccer to ever be played? Of course not. But it was clear that Stephen Glass told his team to go out there and press the ever-loving hell out FC Dallas and that’s exactly what they did from minute one all the way until halftime. It was an exhilarating plan in the opening half that every single player in the Black and Red bought into. Dallas had no idea how to handle the pressure Atlanta was throwing at them. With a little bit of luck, clinical finishing and better decisions, it could’ve easily been a lopsided scoreline in favor of the hosts heading into the break.
- While the high-priced star players may not be in the equation to help matters, this is exactly the type of soccer Atlanta United fans have been clamoring for since Tata Martino departed. It was high energy, well organized and on the front foot. Unfortunately the tolls of flying around the field nonstop for 45 minutes claimed both Miles Robinson and Matheus Rossetto. It’s unclear if that type of tempo is feasible for the duration of the season or even a long stretch of games, but damn if it wasn’t fun to watch for that opening half.
- The second half was a bit more measured in style due to the changes Glass was forced into making, but it was still a very good showing as well. It’s clear to see that the players are finally starting to buy whatever Glass and the veterans around the squad are selling. If we can start to see consistent performances of everyone on the same page and buying in, this could be the turning point in an absolutely brutal season.
- If I have to pick out one player to spotlight it has to be Franco Escobar. It appears that not only is Franco trying to be a verbal leader in the media, he’s transitioning that to his on-field performance as well. His 90-minute shift, split between right and center back was a mature, clean and clinical performance befit of any leader. If this team has a chance to get back on track on a consistent basis it needs Franco Escobar to replicate this performance over and over again.
“I’ve actually spoken to [Franco] about it, personally,” Glass told the media after the win. “That I feel like he can be a leader. I think when his body language is correct and his work rate is what it always is people will follow that. So, I think Franco can definitely be a leader for this group.”
- Obviously, it’s not the time to get ahead of ourselves and proclaim this team is back and start fantasizing about winning every game for the rest of the season. But it’s important to enjoy the good moments these days and this match was for sure one of those. Well done to Stephen Glass and all the players for committing to snapping out of their funk and translating that to the field. Now let’s see more of the same, please.
The most important bonus thought of the match: