That’s what we call a mollywhopping, y’all. The “Action at the Fraction” in Kennesaw was in full Rambo-mode as Atlanta United took down NISA side Chattanooga F.C. in dominant fashion. The Five Stripes walked away from Fifth-Third Bank Stadium in the always unpredictable U.S. Open Cup with a 6-0 trouncing in their first round of the tournament.
There was some uncertainty heading into this match after Atlanta United had scraped through two matches without scoring a goal, all while dealing with an incessant stream of injuries. The floodgates had to open at some point, though, and the goals came from all over the place. Ronald Hernandez, Dom Dwyer (x2), Marcelino “Mando” Moreno, Luiz Araujo, and Brooks Lennon all contributed to what hopefully will be seen as a turning point towards more dominant wins heading back into the MLS season this weekend against Inter Miami. The conversation in the post-game presser alluded to that exact mindset.
On one hand, a viewer could see this match and rightfully think, “Oh, Atlanta United did what it should have done, they beat a lesser side with no trouble at all. What’s the big deal?” The problem with that thought process is that the same viewer would miss out on a ton of valuable storylines woven into this young season. For example, this was the first match that Miles Robinson fully accepted his newfound responsibility and opportunity as captain of Atlanta United, and what better way to take that new step.
Just tryna be like the OG lol— Miles Robinson (@_milesrobinson_) April 21, 2022
Everyone can agree that if Miles Robinson can channel the inner workings of Parky’s soccer IQ and leadership, we might as well go ahead and get “Atlanta United” etched into a lot of upcoming trophies.
Beyond that, though, it was fun to see so much danger across the board from the Five Stripes. Moreno was able to quickly shed any demons he may have left from his blocked PK against Cincinnati a few days ago by burying one against Chattanooga. He also (again) dropped some more dimes all over the pitch and was integral in helping get creative in the final third. Ronald Hernandez had the game he desperately needed to help build some confidence after working his way out of the starting XI, while Amar Sejdic was as busy as he’s ever been. Mulraney had a beautiful assist and drew the penalty that Moreno buried, Gutman had an assist to Dwyer, Dwyer then had an assist on top of a brace, Luiz Araujo scored a goal and proved once again he’s in a class of his own...in other words, this has the potential to be the game that finally sheds the voodoo off the Five Stripes’ collective back. The majority of the team got involved in a ton of goals, and here’s hoping the beast has been unleashed. Speaking of the beast...
It doesn’t matter what competition Atlanta United plays in, momentum can come from anywhere. So no, it doesn’t seem right to only keep the narrative as “They beat a side they should’ve beat.” That’s not wrong, but it does downplay a ton of positivity to be taken from this match, namely the Five Stripes gaining confidence in goal scoring once again. If they can grasp that tightly and dive forward with it into these next matches, it bodes well for both Open Cup and MLS play. Gonzalo Pineda, Alex De John, and Dom Dwyer all put off those vibes in the post-match press conference, so please feel free to chime in on what they said down below.
Atlanta United Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda:
On how effective the attack was tonight compared to previous games:
“I felt that we talk about being more clinical. At times that happens where we struggled the last two games to score goals. We felt tonight was a good opportunity to break that record. I think they were a bit more composed tonight in the final third. We still left some chances go because the last touch or last pass wasn’t quite there. I felt that we took every opportunity to try and score goals and the players executed that. Sometimes that happens, you don’t have to fix anything, they know what they have to do on that part. At times, it’s an inch wide or an inch to the other side, but I felt today the team gained confidence. Hopefully today is that night that helps us in the future to score goals.”
On Dwyer scoring tonight, getting an assist and seeing a striker score:
“I felt that Dom Dwyer did great. He’s an experienced No. 9 in this league and we know he is able and capable of scoring goals. It was good to see that performance, especially his second goal was fantastic. The first one, a very good header at near post. The second one, I thought that he saw the play coming and he was looking for that finish. I’m happy for him and his confidence, and then he added an assist so I’m very pleased with his performance. Also, in the limited minutes I thought Ronaldo Cisneros had a very good effort, chasing and pressing and winning balls in dangerous areas. I asked that of him, so I’m happy with both performances.”
On the team’s intensity from the start:
“Yeah, I just told them that. They put good intensity today. It’s not easy, no matter who the opponent is, when you make seven changes to put that intensity on the field. We have to improve defensively. I felt we were late at times, not because of intensity, but a couple of visual cues that we need to understand better. I was happy how fast we moved the ball from side to side. Especially through the midfielders, when we did that we looked dangerous. I think it was a solid performance for most of my players.”
On getting guys some match minutes:
“Yeah it was something that we tried to do. We as coaches reflected on how we can win the game without affecting our preparation for Miami, but at same time respecting the opponent. There has to be a balance in that. I know everyone will say that it’s normal that we win. It’s not, when we are on the field it’s 11v11. Actually, I want to say that Rod Underwood is a fantastic coach. I told him that after the game and I was very impressed. They were a very good side, they are physical, they know how to play on the ground and try to play and break us down. They succeeded many times, so kudos to them. It was a good night to see many players impacting the game, including some guys who didn’t have as many minutes in the last weeks. But also giving some opportunities to find rhthym for the Luiz Araujo’s and Emerson Hyndman’s that are coming back from injuries. It was good to see Alex De John, who was the only player who hadn’t seen minutes in MLS this year, now he has an Open Cup match. Same for Ronald Hernandez. It was good in many different ways, but we will reflect as coaches on the good and the bad.”
Atlanta United defender Alex De John
On how big the win was for the team:
“It’s always tough when we have long injuries that we lose really valuable players, not on the pitch, but off the pitch as well. So it was important for us to come out strong and just show how deep we are and how dynamic we are. We have a really dynamic attack and we’ve been struggling maybe to score goals lately, so to get out on the front foot, score a goal and wind up scoring six is big for us.”
On having respect for the opponents:
“I feel like the best way to go forward is respecting the opponent and the best thing you can do is play your best, go at them and not have a piss about. Give them your best effort. For us, it was really just jumping out on that front foot. It was all about our mentality today. If we had that presence on the field, the pressure, the intensity, our quality was going to follow through.”
On getting minutes with the first team:
“It’s always good to get into the squad. Me as a person, I’m fighting everyday in training, working my butt off. To see it translate to the game is good. I feel like whenever my name’s called, I’ll be stepping up. It was important for me and good for me to be out there today.”
On Miles Robinson’s leadership:
“It was funny. Before the game, Gonzalo [Pineda] named him the captain and he kind of just went in there and said, ‘alright, let’s go.’ He’s not a man of many words, but he’s a leader by example. You see him out there. Every single day, he fights, he does whatever he needs to do. You just vibe off his energy on the field, his confidence, his security. It feels good for all of us.”
On what he took away from the game
“Gonzalo [Pineda] mentioned it after the game that there is some stuff to build on. Every game, there’s some stuff to build on. Like I said earlier, it’s all about our mentality going into the game but I feel like the last 30 minutes were very open. It was counter after counter. We can work on more, just preventing the counterattack, getting numbers forward and a little bit of balance in the midfield and defense. Other than that, I feel like our mentality was good, our intensity was good and our quality was good.”
Atlanta United forward Dom Dwyer
On his second goal:
“I knew the play was going to build up that side. When Jake [Mulraney] gets one v. one against anyone, he’s very difficult to stop. He put a great ball in, so I just knew I had to put myself in a good position, get myself in front of the defender. Just timed it well and finished it across goal. Just opened up the body. Put the head on it first, and the body after.”
On if he staked a claim on the starting striker spot:
“Honestly, whatever this team needs from me. Of course you want to play every game as a player, but I’m here for the team. Whatever is needed from me, I will do. I just want to give my best for the team every week.”
On what the night meant to him:
“Honestly, I’m in a good place. Atlanta has believed in me, as a club, and signed me to a multiple-year contract. For me, it’s just trying to perform each week whether I’m asked to start or come off the bench, whatever it is. I’m just in a place of having the ability to get games and of course, my job is to score goals. We needed a good performance tonight from the group, and I think we had that. A clean sheet, it’s something that we’ve been doing well the last couple of weeks and we just needed the goals. The goals came tonight.”
On being on the Atlanta side of an U.S. Open Cup tie:
“I’ve got to say, when I got subbed off last 15, 20 minutes today, I was watching our team play. It’s beautiful to watch. I’m very excited and happy to be here and be a part of this club. There’s a lot of talented players. As you can see, we had a lot of players missing tonight and we’re still able to put out performances like that. Everyone makes an impact, everyone makes a difference. We have a strong group and we’re in for the long run here. We want trophies, so this is the first step.
If you get a bit of time, listen in as Tommy and I recap the match and chat about everything that happened. And as usual, we’d love any of y’all to jump into the conversation with us on the DSS Twitter Spaces after every game.