A red card late in the first half didn’t prevent Atlanta United from securing a result they’ll be extremely pleased to take into the second leg in Kennesaw next week in its Concacaf Champions League matchup with LD Alajuelense. Overall, the first match of the Gabriel Heinze era was a hugely encouraging performance.
GK Brad Guzan 4: Wild night. Sent off in the 43rd minute, but it was only half his fault after being put in a do-or-die situation. His distribution wasn’t always perfect but he did nicely coming off his line to sweep up — until he didn’t. The distribution was noticeably shorter and on the ground, even playing passes short to central midfielders.
LB George Bello 7: Not the cleanest game from Bello, but he was a key figure in most of Atlanta’s best attacking moves on the night and earned the penalty for Barco. Alajuelense seemed to target the space behind him in the first half, but his defenders helped cover the space nicely.
CB Miles Robinson 8 (MOTM): Missed as easy of a chance as a center back could hope to have in the 12th minute from a corner. Other than that he was classic Miles Robinson, a confident defender who provided all the security Atlanta needed at the back. He had some nice moments in possession as well.
CB Anton Walkes 6: Looked more uncomfortable than Robinson playing out of his natural position on the left side.
RB Brooks Lennon 6: A solid performance from Lennon at right back. Interestingly, he tucked inside at times in the attack while Mulroney went wide. As always, a hard-working performance that we’ve come to expect from Lennon
DM Santiago Sosa 7: Sosa was and will continue to be tasked as the primary passer out of the back. Not every pass was perfect, but he positioned himself smartly and it was generally a positive performance.
CM Franco Ibarra 6: Ibarra made himself a nuisance and showed why he will be a big player for Atlanta United this season and beyond. He’s far from a finished product, but he was eager to play quick short passes and looked very much up for the occasion at just 19 years of age.
CM Emerson Hyndman 6: Hyndman certainly played some soccer.
LW Ezequiel Barco 4: He scored the penalty, but considering a decent taker does so at about an 80% rate, I’m not crediting his rating much for it. At fault for the sending off, playing a poor pass that put Brad Guzan in a bad situation. Nearly assisted Lisandro Lopez on a perfect square ball in the first half, but was not sharp and slow to play passes. However, he never lost his aggression and looked fit and strong in the second half.
RW Jake Mulraney 6: He was good. Nothing special, but pretty tidy on the ball, worked hard, and didn’t make many mistakes in general.
ST Lisandro Lopez 6: Showed his strength as a link-up man up top. Missed a quality chance in the first half that he’ll be disappointed not to have bagged, but a very solid performance over 66 minutes.
SUB Rocco Rios Novo 7: It wasn’t always pretty from the teenager on a four-day contract, but he helped Atlanta manage the second half with some quality time-wasting. Once he got past his initial moments of action, he made some saves, though none were particularly difficult stops until the end when he handled the pressure extraordinarily well.
SUB Josef Martinez 5: Good to see Josef Martinez back on the pitch, but the striker still looked hesitant and not back to his normal self. Some of that could be down to the conditions of coming into a game with the team down a man.
SUB George Campbell NA