It was the late show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium as Atlanta United managed to grab all three points in a nervy 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire.
The win brings the Five Stripes’ point total to 18 in nine games and a 5-3-1 record, leaving them in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference two points behind New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati.
Many questions surrounded Atlanta United’s starting lineup with Thiago Almada, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Franco Ibarra all listed as questionable on the team’s availability report from Saturday. To the relief of Five Stripe fans, all three made the matchday squad with Almada and Giakoumakis even making the starting XI.
Andrew Gutman returned to the starting lineup for the first time since his injury at Columbus, meaning Gonzalo Pineda had a tough choice at left wing between Caleb Wiley, who just came off his senior national team debut, and Derrick Etienne Jr. Pineda opted for the latter.
Finally, the midfield pairing for the day was Santiago Sosa and Matheus Rossetto.
Atlanta United didn’t take long to get going. Just five minutes in, Giakoumakis receives a pass in behind and plays a perfect low cross to Gutman who taps it into the back of the net. Unfortunately, the goal didn’t stand due to an offside in the build-up.
The Five Stripes wouldn’t stay quiet, however. Brooks Lennon in the 12th minute got to a ball just before crossing the end line and played a beautiful cutback to Giakoumakis who fired it past Chris Brady to open the score.
GIAKOUMAKIS, COMES FROM GREECE— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) April 23, 2023
WHEN HE PLAYS, HE SCORES WITH EASE pic.twitter.com/cxnZPJecJe
The Greek striker now tallies five goals in five consecutive starts for Atlanta United, becoming the second player in MLS to do so.
The rest of the half was a bit nervy for the Five Stripes as they became disorganized. What should’ve been easy passes went errant, the midfield was being played through too easily and the team just struggled to keep control of the game. Regardless, they were able to hold onto a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
The second half saw a few... concerning... things for Atlanta. First, Quintin Westberg was subbed off and Clement Diop came on to replace him. Westberg seemed to have taken a knock and was seen with his leg wrapped on the bench.
Then Giakoumakis had to be subbed off early after feeling discomfort in his hamstring. He had to be helped off the field by trainers and was replaced by Miguel Berry.
After that, Chicago continued to cause all sorts of problems for Atlanta. The pressure finally gave way in the 90th minute when a bad back pass turned into a Chicago equalizer. At the end of regulation, it seemed like Atlanta United was doomed to tie for the third week in a row.
That is until Juanjo Purata headed the ball toward the goal before it took a deflection off of Chicago’s Maren Haile-Selassie and went in. The own goal gave Atlanta United the 2-1 lead right before Victor Rivas blew his whistle to conclude the game.
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