Atlanta United was finally able to put another in the win column after snapping a four-match losing streak with a 4-0 victory over Colorado Rapids.
The win saw the team create many chances and defend with an urgency that we haven’t seen in a while. The reward was just what the Five Stripes needed: a clean sheet, an explosive attacking display and three points on the board.
Now that we finally have a positive result to discuss, let’s break down some key moments from the match.
Great Chance - Colorado Rapids 26’
Kevin Cabral had been charging freely down the left side until Miles Robinson came over to cut him off. With Robinson’s movement out of position to close down Cabral, Atlanta United’s backline now has a significant gap. To fill this gap, Santiago Sosa does what he usually does and drops back (red arrow) to act as a sort of center back.
As Luiz Araújo comes in red hot to pressure Cabral (purple arrow), the French winger decides to look for central options with a pass to Connor Ronan (blue arrow).
A very problematic thing in this image is how alone and open Michael Barrios (circled in yellow) is. He was already causing Atlanta United plenty of problems early in the match, so him receiving the ball in that position would be troublesome.
Fortunately, Ronald Hernandez hustles back and arrives in time to mark Barrios’ zone (solid red arrow). Rossetto jogs over to press Ronan (yellow arrow), forcing him to get rid of the ball with a pass to Barrios (blue arrow) who Hernandez immediately begins to press (dotted red arrow).
With Robinson back in his position, Sosa is now free to step forward and cover other space in front of the backline (purple arrow).
Barrios holds up while Sam Nicholson makes an overlapping run (yellow arrow) for the Colombian to play him in (blue arrow). With the Scottish midfielder threatening a cross into the box, Juanjo Purata runs with him to try and cut out the cross (red arrow).
Nicholson aims for Cabral in the center (dotted blue arrow)...
... and Purata expertly cuts out the cross, even rolling over the ball to buy some more time.
Cabral comes over and manages to get the ball back, but Purata is back to his feet and quickly ushers him out of the box (red and blue arrows).
Under too much pressure, Cabral decides his best bet is to simply pass back to Ronan and find another avenue into the box (blue arrow). As Cabral plays the pass, Etienne gets over to pressure Ronan (red arrow).
Ronan quickly passes back to Ralph Priso (blue arrow) who quickly rushes forward to try to open a passing lane (yellow arrow). Berry runs over to close down Priso (red arrow).
Meanwhile, Nicholson makes his way back to continue participating in the play (purple arrow).
As Nicholson comes back from behind Hernandez (yellow arrow), Priso passes the ball to him (blue arrow) before Berry can take the ball from him.
Michael Barrios sees the chance that can come is Nicholson plays a through ball in between the defense and starts making a run into Atlanta’s box (purple arrow).
Nicholson plays a really good through ball (blue arrow) which Barrios picks up (yellow arrow), but the Colombian is ruled to have taken up an offside position.
- It was hard for me to pick a good defensive play to analyze... because Colorado didn’t have many concrete chances. The Rapids tallied just five shots on the night and NONE of them came from inside the box. Let’s be honest, Colorado isn’t a great team. On the one hand, it’s hard to truly evaluate how much this result tells about this team going forward. On the other hand, Atlanta United really needed this win. Hopefully, it can take the momentum from this dominant performance and earn positive results against other teams because trust me: the matches don’t get any easier.
- Juanjo Purata had a great defensive performance. His contributions in this play were key to avoiding a concession. From perfectly cutting out the cross to chasing Cabral out of the box to prevent him from trying to make a play inside the box, Purata put in one heck of a shift. He wasn’t the only one, either. Miles Robinson also seemed much more solid in this match than he had been in the past few and Ronald Hernandez made the most of the minutes given to him as he stepped in for an injured Andrew Gutman. The team as a whole seemed to have greater urgency during this game, something it had been lacking for a while. It needs to keep that going into the following matches to avoid another major slump like the one it was just in.
Atlanta United Goal - Tyler Wolff 86’
Atlanta United starts playing out from the back as Luis Abram attempts a pass to Franco Ibarra (dotted blue arrow). He places the pass too far away from the Argentine (solid blue arrow), however, and it’s recovered by Colorado’s Danny Leyva.
Leyva advances toward Atlanta’s goal (blue arrow) with a teammate making a run in support (yellow arrow) who gets even more space after Juanjo Purata tucks in to cover Calvin Harris (purple arrow). Leyva takes a heavy touch which Ibarra quickly sees as a great opportunity to win the ball and goes in for the tackle (red arrow).
Ibarra’s tackle is good and Tyler Wolff recovers the ball to initiate a counter attack (red arrow).
Wolff charges forward and lays the ball off for Machop Chol (blue arrow) who’s making a run down the right flank (yellow arrow). Speeding over to close Chol down is Sam Nicholson (red arrow).
Despite Atlanta’s momentum, it’s still outnumbered six to four (Thiago Almada is out of frame to the bottom left of the image) in this attack, so making this a legitimate chance won’t be easy.
Chol dribbles inward to escape Nicholson’s pressure (blue arrow) while Wolff makes a run toward the edge of Colorado’s box (yellow arrow). This way, he opens a really neat passing option to create a chance.
Something really interesting that we start to see during this play is what Giorgos Giakoumakis does when he sees the chance that’s developing. He doesn’t just stay still or remain marked by staying near defenders. He intelligently drops backward (purple arrow) to make it easier for Chol to find him for a pass.
Here we see Giakoumakis’ movement a little better (purple arrow) in the moments just before Chol sends the ball to him (blue arrow). In the meantime, Wolff gets into the box with a very good run behind Colorado’s defense (yellow arrow).
Giakoumakis doesn’t waste any time or try anything fancy. He simply keeps the ball moving to the left side (blue arrow) where Almada is running in (yellow arrow).
With both Wolff and Giakoumakis running in (yellow and purple arrows) in the box, Almada decides to have a go at goal (blue arrow) in the hope that maybe one of those two can tap it in if William Yarbrough keeps it out.
Yarbrough does manage to save Almada’s shot...
... but Wolff is there to bury it with a backheel shot.
- Ibarra has a knack for finding the perfect moment to make a tackle. He’s really grown into his role as a destroyer type of midfielder and has the potential to be even better. It takes some really good vision to identify press/tackle triggers like he does, and his style of going hard into tackles makes it hard to get past him when he commits to a tackle. If he wants to bring you down, you’re going to be rolling on the ground for a minute. This play is another example of Ibarra’s refined ability to read plays and take decisive action to stop the opposition and even set up a counterattack.
- Congrats to Tyler Wolff on his first MLS goal! Despite it seeming to just be a tap-in, the 20-year-old homegrown did well to score. He had just been subbed on and was already making an impact with his runs in behind and the space he was exploiting. He’s still young and has some developing to do, but he’s already starting to show his attacking prowess and we’ll undoubtedly see him find the back of the net more times in the future.
Atlanta United Goal - Giorgos Giakoumakis 90’
This one’s going to be short, sweet and tons of fun. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Quinten Westberg starts things off from the back with a long ball to Brooks Lennon on the far touchline (blue arrow).
Lennon gets the ball and - without hesitation - launches it forward with a beautiful cross to Giakoumakis (blue arrow).
Giakoumakis chests the ball down and is now through on goal with only Yarbrough to beat (blue arrow). He does have a couple of Colorado defenders behind him (red arrows), though, so he can’t slow down.
We saw Luiz Araujo in a goalkeeper 1v1 situation against Charlotte where he was unsuccessful. Now, we get to see what Giakoumakis does differently. Does he decide to take the shot from far out? Dribble past the keeper? Draw the penalty??
No! He goes OVER the keeper with a nasty chip (blue arrow). Legend.
The ball comes down and the finish is all too easy for the Greek tank.
- Brooks Lennon is second in the league in successful crosses.
Brooks Lennon is second in the league in successful crosses (29) this season #atlutd— Henry Higuita (@HAHiguita) May 17, 2023
And he just put in an insane cross for Giakoumakis to go on and score his sixth goal this season. Lennon’s crossing ability has proven invaluable to Atlanta United and his six assists this season don’t lie. Many fans from this team’s earlier years may remember how good Julian Gressel was at putting crosses right where Josef Martinez needed them. The pair frequently connected to score many goals. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar connection develop between Lennon and Giakoumakis as this season goes on. Speaking of Giako...
- BOOM GIAKOUMAKIS. Six goals in 483 MLS minutes is about one goal every 80.5 minutes - essentially a goal per game. His return has been insane, but it’s not just his numbers that are impressive. His physicality and ability to find the right space make him such a difficult player to defend. This time, he also showed his technical acumen as he perfectly timed the chip over Yarbrough and calculated its trajectory well enough to essentially land it on the goal line. His ability to act as an on-field leader that the players can look up to thanks to his experience in Europe has also proven extremely valuable. There’s no doubt that Giakoumakis can lead this team to great things.
Also, I’m including his goal here because it’s just so fun to watch. Here. Analyze it yourselves. I’m outta here.