The last time these two teams played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United won its first piece of silverware after just two seasons in MLS. Tonight, the Five Stripes repeated that win over the Portland Timbers with an impressive 5-1 score.
The win puts Atlanta’s season point total to 10 and marks its first win streak of the season.
Gonzalo Pineda only changed one thing from the starting lineup that put three goals past Charlotte FC last week: he gave new designated player Giorgos Giakoumakis his first start in Atlanta United colors. With Matheus Rossetto once again held out ahead of the match, the team started Amar Sejdic and Franco Ibarra in midfield with Ajani Fortune and Santiago Sosa available off the bench.
It seemed like the Five Stripes would be set back early after Erik Williamson fired a well-placed shot from outside the box that beat Brad Guzan after just two minutes of play. Just when it seemed that the Timbers would take a quick lead, VAR Jair Marrufo called referee Ted Unkel to the monitor and the goal was overturned due to an offside player obstructing Guzan’s sight.
After an early scare, Atlanta United started to settle into the game and began to flex its attacking muscles. Eventually, the reward would come after Thiago Almada beat a couple of defenders on a fast break and played a great ball to put Caleb Wiley one-on-one against Aljaz Ivacic. Continuing his fantastic form from last week, the 18-year-old homegrown finished calmly to put Atlanta up 1-0 in the 25th minute.
We promise, you're going to want to know the name Caleb Wiley pic.twitter.com/jDckBMPhcW— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 19, 2023
The goal spurred the hosts to keep pushing for more and they’d find it in first-half stoppage time when the one and only Thiago Almada - World Champion, MVP candidate and golazo machine - scored an absolute banger of a free kick from 32 yards out. I mean... words can’t even describe how beautiful the goal was, so watch it here for yourself.
With that masterpiece to close out the first 45, Atlanta United went to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
The Five Stripes came out swinging in the second half with Giakoumakis getting in behind the Timbers’ backline many times only to be stopped by the linesman’s flag. But Portland couldn’t keep him quiet all night. The Greek striker found the net in the 58th minute after getting his head on the end of a majestic cross courtesy of Wiley. The party inside the Benz continued as Atlanta United found themselves ahead with a 3-0 score.
Ahead by a landslide, but the Five Stripes didn’t stop. Heck, they didn’t even lift their foot off the gas in the slightest. In the 74th minute, Luiz Araújo got in on the action after receiving a perfectly placed ball over the top from Thiago Almada. The Brazilian winger took his chance nicely and the lead grew to 4-0.
Despite facing a mountain to climb, the visitors managed a consolation goal in the 82nd minute thanks to a header from Tega Ikoba. At this stage in the game, the goal did little to change the result of the match, but it did ruin what would have been Atlanta United’s 2nd clean sheet of the season.
But World Champion, MVP candidate and free kick specialist Thiago Almada took the concession personally. After a neat turn inside the box, the Argentine wonder-kid fired one home to put the Five Stripes ahead by a staggering 5-1 score.
Wow. Just... wow. Not only did Atlanta win, but they did it in style giving the fans an avalanche of goals to celebrate.
What did you think of the game? Let us know in the comments below.