Atlanta United picked up possibly their biggest win of the season on Wednesday night, overcoming a 1-0 deficit to beat Inter Miami, 2-1. The Five Stripes desperately needed three points against a team much lower than them in the standings and with such few matches remaining. Here are a few thoughts on how the match played out and what the result does for the big picture.
- This wasn’t a dominant performance over a weaker side, nor was it a very attractive one. However, at this time of the year, it’s all about the end result. Gonzalo Pineda’s side did what the needed to overcome the first half penalty to get the win. Once again it was Luiz Araujo who proved to be the difference maker. His cheeky free kick under the Miami wall equalized the match and then his perfectly placed throughball set up Josef Martinez for the winner. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Brazilian since his arrival but he’s starting to consistently show his quality and put his stamp on the match.
- Another deserved shoutout goes to Brad Guzan once again. Yes, he did concede the penalty on a very awkward play in which he was forced into making a decision that he was just a split second late on. These things happen and it’s the price you sometimes pay for playing an aggressively high defensive line. Huge credit to Brad though for coming up with several big saves including a huge one late in the match that saved two points for his side. He’s been tremendous in the second half of the season and has silenced his doubters resoundingly over the past three months.
- The victory puts Atlanta in sixth position in the Eastern conference table after play finished on Wednesday. The good news is Gonzalo Pineda’s side has a game in hand on almost every one of their nearest playoff competitors. Now having the game in hand and taking advantage of it are two different things, but it’s nice to at least have the chance to make up ground. Saturday’s match will be the last home game of the regular season and depending on how the playoff seeding shakes out, could be the last until 2022. Toronto FC coming to town should be another victory, plain and simple. They are the second worst team in the conference and have very little to play for other than their pride. The last meeting between the two teams was very heated. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.