It wasn’t a win in the standings but Atlanta United’s 2-2 draw with Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium certainly felt like an emotional lift that was desperately needed from players to fans and everyone in between. While the performance was far from a scintillating technical and tactical masterclass, it was an extremely gutsy effort from a rag-tag group of players including a club record four homegrowns.
GK Alec Kann 8 - Came up big when needed and despite the two goals conceded, there was not much Kann could do about either one. His performance was good enough to put him in contention for my Man of the Match.
LWB Jake Mulraney 6 - WIth so many players missing, manager Gabriel Heinze deployed Mulraney in a slightly different role that prioritized work rate over 1v1 attacking on the wing. Mulraney assisted Walkes on the team’s first goal and was unlucky to be sent off by a poor decision by the referee and VAR.
CB Anton Walkes 8 - Another MOTM contender, Walkes showed exactly why he saw the captains armband hanging in his locker in the dressing room Thursday night. Playing with young and inexperienced players around him, Walkes kept the back line organized and effective.
CB Alex De John 7 - De John struggled early and for that reason I planned to only give him a 6... once he grew into the game he perfomed his limited role well in clearing anything and everything out of the danger zone. But to know that he broke his elbow late in the second half and continued on to help the team secure the result is honestly the stuff of legends. So well done.
RWB Brooks Lennon 6 - Thursday night simply wasn’t a game that allowed Brooks Lennon to shine as much as he has at times this year. But as a player who’s grown to become one of the team’s most consistent performers, he put in another really solid shift.
DM/CB Santiago Sosa 5 - Sosa got off to a poor start and was at fault for the first goal the team conceded, simply losing his mark on a corner kick. To his credit, he was effective once he was moved into a true central midfield role when George Campbell was introduced to replace an injured Mo Adams.
CM Mo Adams 5 - Not much to say for Adams who left the game midway through the first half after taking a knock the the quadriceps area. The good news is it didn’t look like the kind of injury that would keep a player out long term, and with some extra days before the team’s next match next Saturday, hopefully he’ll be available to play.
CM Tyler Wolff 6 - Wolff still seems to be getting his bearings playing as a central midfielder in Gabriel Heinze’s system. He committed some needless turnovers early, but in my opinion he made up for his mistakes with his energy and willingness to press high up the field. Late in the first half, he won a tackle that fell to Cubo Torres who was immediately in a very dangerous position at the top of the box.
LW Marcelino Moreno 6 - Moreno looked to have more space to operate and thus more confidence to play his game Thursday night. Not everything came off, but his willingness to tuck inside and help Atlanta with numbers in midfield was important.
RW Machop Chol 6 - While not everything came off for Machop Chol Thursday night, it was evident that his presence and profile as a true vertical threat opened up space for others and presented danger for Nashville to defend. Heinze said it himself that Chol, along with all the homegrowns who played Thursday, showed they deserve more time.
ST Cubo Torres 1 - I’m sure Torres is beating himself up over what happened last night so no reason for me to pile on. I’m not going to give 1s often, except for when a player costs a team a goal for no reason and doesn’t really help the team in other areas either, I see no other option.
George Campbell 7 - You can’t say enough about the way a young Academy graduate like Campbell came into a situation like he did Thursday and help defend against an underrated (imo) set of attackers that Nashville had on the field — and kept throwing fresh bodies to run at Atlanta’s back line.
Jackson Conway 8 (Man of the Match) - He only played for about 40 minutes Thursday night, but the importance of his goal, the presence he showed at the big-bodied No. 9 this team has been missing, and the hopeful feeling that sprouts from those two things are why he earns my MOTM. Conway has said before that he never expects to touch the ball much overall during a game, and that the more important thing is to make sure the touches you do make matter. He certainly did that Thursday, scoring his first MLS goal with nearly his first touch of the game.
Mikey Ambrose NA