After a grueling 90 minutes that saw D.C. United foul Atlanta United 20 times, the Five Stripes snatched three points from Audi Field Saturday night thanks to Marcelino Moreno’s headed goal off of Brooks Lennon’s corner kick in the 94th minute (!).
It felt like neither team was going to walk away with the whole three points, and Atlanta United would have been completely fine with taking one point back to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
But Atlanta United is starting to build out a track record of picking up points in stoppage time. Today, Atlanta stole two points off of D.C. Two weeks ago, Atlanta came back with two late goals to secure a point in a bonkers 3-3 draw with CF Montreal. Then there was Josef’s penalty kick in the 96th minute against Charlotte FC to take all three points.
Regardless of how the team has looked over the course of 90 minutes so far this season, Pineda’s players are still picking up points in situations Atlanta United probably wouldn’t have been able to last season.
“I think it says a lot. It’s not a team that [gives] up,” Pineda said. “Last year, I remember we gave up a lot of pinots at the of the games, and now we’re doing completely the opposite. And that for me is a massive achievement because it’s not something that comes on it’s own. It’s something that is worked by the players by training very hard until the end of the training session.”
Atlanta did have to work hard, and it was a scrappy game. D.C. United committed 20 fouls against the Five Stripes, and Atlanta United didn’t leave Audi Field unscathed. Midfielders Ozzie Alonso and Matheus Rossetto both sustained injuries and were forced off. Alonso sustained a contact knee injury while Rossetto’s injury was a non-contact.
Marcelino Moreno earned the Heineken Man of the Match on the Bally Sports South broadcast, but I thought Thiago Almada was one of the brightest spots on the team. On his first start, the young Argentine amassed .36xG=+xA, higher than any other player on the field. He was all over the field, and was playing some exquisite passes in behind the lines. He’s going to be an exciting player to watch this season. Almada and Moreno did play well together, which is a nice development to see.
“These are the first games that we’re playing together,” Moreno said. “I think we can conintue to do these things on the field.”
Gonzalo Pineda also turned to the bench to give Jackson Conway his first MLS minutes of the season, but the young striker will look back on this match with some regret after completely scuffing what was Atlanta’s best chance of the match up until that point. Luckily, Moreno’s header bailed Conway out of any blame for dropped points. With Dom Dwyer’s red card against CF Montreal two weeks ago, Conway had a big opportunity to impress Pineda on Saturday.
Atlanta United will travel to Charlotte on April 10 to face Charlotte FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30.