Atlanta United earned a massive 3-0 win over rivals Orlando City on Friday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Five Stripes thoroughly dominated the Lions and came away with the victory thanks to goals from George Campbell, Ezequiel Barco and a Daryl Dike own goal. Here are some thoughts on a fantastic night in the ATL.
- We’re just going to pretend like that Nashville match never happened and that this was Gonzalo Pineda’s first match in charge of Atlanta United. After having almost two full weeks to work with his squad in training, the difference between that match and this one was staggering. All facets of the game seemed to be improved throughout the team. The work rate in the press was sublime all night as was the energy to constantly push forward and bombard the opposing goal. All of these intangibles were backed up by an unmistakable organization that has been sorely missing for a long time around these parts. It seemed like everyone on the field in black knew exactly what their role was supposed to be and executed it to perfection. The rotation of forwards up top without Josef Martinez, while appearing complicated, worked seamlessly with Barco, Moreno and Araujo each floating all around the box. The progress the team has made under Pineda after an extended period of training has to be encouraging for everyone to see.
- Miles Robinson’s unbelievable work for the USMNT during the international break meant that George Campbell had to be called on to play a big role on the back line. The 20-year-old homegrown stepped up in a huge way and dare I say made Miles’ absence virtually unnoticeable. Not only did he score his first MLS goal with a lovely glancing header in the first half but he played a integral role in keeping the likes of Daryl Dike and Luis Nani quiet all night. Atlanta United have themselves quite the center back group with four different players capable of starting and playing at an extremely high level. It’s a very good problem for Gonzalo Pineda to have. Campbell’s continued great work has to make it a lot easier for the club to contemplate accepting a good offer for Miles Robinson in the winter if one should come in.
- Once again it’s time to heap praise onto Ezequiel Barco. It sure does feel good to repetitively complement him rather than pointing out his poor or forgettable play. The last six weeks has undoubtedly been the best stretch of Barco’s tenure in Atlanta. His spectacular solo goal in this one was one we’ll see on his highlight reel for the duration of his career. The confidence and aggression he’s currently playing with is what his critics have been begging to see for the last four years. It’s refreshing to see a player rise to the challenge of meeting high expectations. If he continues with this form and production there’s no doubt that he’ll rekindle the interest of some notable teams across Europe come January.
- Obviously this is just one match and there’s still plenty of season to go. However, you may be dead inside if this performance didn’t get you excited for the what’s to come. Gonzalo Pineda took Orlando City to school in this match and proved exactly why he garnered so much attention as a managerial candidate. I can’t wait to see how the team builds on this progress and carries on from here. Hopefully this is just the start of something really fun to watch.