Friday night’s disappointment was replaced by pure joy on Saturday as Atlanta United handily defeated visiting Inter Miami by a 5-2 score.
Although the nearly 72,000 fans in attendance didn’t get to watch Lionel Messi play on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf, they did get to witness a thrilling seven-goal game that added three points to Atlanta United’s account this season.
The Five Stripes now have 45 points from 29 games and a 12-8-9 record.
The starting XI was unchanged from the one that fell 2-1 to FC Cincinnati last week. Saba Lobjanidze started on the bench but Jamal Thiare - the club’s latest addition - was absent from the 18-man squad.
The visitors struck first after a long shot was blasted against the crossbar and landed perfectly for Leo Campana who skillfully lobbed it over Miles Robinson before rifling it into the net from close range. The Five Stripes paid for the lack of pressure on the ball by going down 1-0 after 25 minutes.
It seemed like no Messi, no problem for the Herons, but Atlanta United wasn’t giving up. The players grew into the game and put together some good sequences including one that resulted in a Tristan Muyumba goal in the 36th minute that barely crossed the line. It was so close that VAR had to confirm the tying goal. The goal is Muyumba’s first with the club.
Alright let's catch up...— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 16, 2023
Tristan Muyumba can do it allllll pic.twitter.com/KeSCAxCZO6
Motivated by the goal, Atlanta United set off on a warpath to end the first half. At the 41st minute, Xande Silva showed his skill as he dribbled into the box and played a driven ball in front of goal that deflected off Miami defender Kamal Miller and went in. With Silva's somersaults and a rowdy crowd, Mercedes-Benz Stadium celebrated the goal that gave the Five Stripes a 2-1 lead.
Kind of messy, but here's our second goal pic.twitter.com/EOYXWSyVaZ— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 16, 2023
But the Five Stripes weren’t finished yet. The 44th minute of the match saw Caleb Wiley play a perfect cross to an unmarked Brooks Lennon in the box who blasted it past Drake Callender to extend Atlanta’s lead to 3-1. With his fourth goal of the season, Lennon keeps the party going in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Wiley with the laser, Brooks with the GOLAZO pic.twitter.com/KXF9yIHklE— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 16, 2023
Inter Miami pulled one back early in the second half from a penalty after a handball inside the box. Campana took the penalty and buried it to cut Atlanta’s lead to 3-2.
Atlanta pushed to restore the two-goal advantage and succeeded in the 76th minute when Saba Lobjanidze played a cross to Giorgos Giakoumakis who finished with ease. The Greek now tallies 14 goals this season and is tied with Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar at the top of the Golden Boot race.
Tyler Wolff added the cherry on top in the 89th minute with an absolute rocket. Lobjanidze’s ball that led to the shot earned him his second assist of the night.
Wow. What a game. This team is just very fun to watch now. They get forward quickly and have some very talented players who can change a game. It looked like Atlanta would score every time they got forward and the crowd was absolutely loving it.
The Five Stripes will be back in action on Wednesday, Sept. 20 when they travel to face DC United at Audi Field.
What did you think of the match? Let us know in the comments below.