Atlanta United wins ugly, which is beautiful
When you dreamt it in your minds eye, you always pictured Atlanta’s first win against Red Bulls being a triumphant performance where the team finally “figures out” Red Bulls’ vaunted press, counters it with precision time and time again, and wins by a big scoreline. In the end, it was more of the opposite of that — a knock-down drag ‘em out kind of game that was physical and ugly. And the true beauty in the performance may just lie in that reality. Atlanta didn’t dispatch of Red Bulls, but instead beat them in the kind of game that they’d always want to play. It’s the kind of game Atlanta has quite literally never thrived in before (at least in the regular season), and to win in this style (or lack there of) is a testament to the team’s resilience, especially doing it after bouncing back from last week’s ugly loss.
Three points is all that matters
We know this team can play pretty. We know they have all the talent required in the attacking areas to score and disrupt teams. We will need to learn whether they can do that consistently over the course of the season, mind. But waking up on Sunday morning, the only thing that matters is that you have the three points in the bag. When we get to the end of the season and look back at the table — wherever Atlanta ends up — the only thing we’ll reflect on regarding Saturday’s game is the result.
Giorgios Giakoumakis, who scored the match’s only goal, said it succinctly after the game: “Sometimes you cannot play the best game but it’s important to win the three points. This result matters because if you want to be champion, you have to win the games with a good or bad performance.”
Franco Ibarra is a dog
If there’s one Atlanta United player who loved this kind of game, it was the hard-tackling, all-action Ibarra. After a rough one last week in Columbus, he looked comfortable once again in a familiar midfield and team shape. In a span of just over a handful of games, he’s turned himself from a player who was fighting for playing time to one who is likely one of Pineda’s first names on the team sheet. It’s a testament to the work he’s put in to get to this point, and it’s just in time. Atlanta United has sorely needed a player in the middle of the park who can serve as the yin to the team’s attacking yang. While he’s still far from the finished article as a player (needs to become truly press resistant), he’s a player who’s got that dawg in him.
Miles Robinson is not just playing, he’s the best CB in MLS (again)
Miles Robinson is freaky good. It’s like, in addition to his athleticism, spatial awareness and technique, he’s got Jedi mind tricks, too. At least that’s what it seems like after he gracefully dispossesses an opponent who is running at him with the ball in a three-on-one break. But in reality, Robinson used all three of those skills noted to do so Saturday night in a crucial moment of the game.
Running back toward his own goal and facing three Red Bulls attackers, Robinson feinted with his body like he was going to change his route to create indecisiveness in the ball carrier. While doing so and retreating toward Guzan, Robinson cleverly does so at just a slightly slower rate than the onrushing opponents, allowing him to close down the space to the ball. Then, in a sudden movement, he acts decisively and dispossesses the opponent. Just an incredible moment that showcased how truly special he is, and why he will certainly have his suitors in Europe vying for his signing on a pre-contract this summer.