Josef Martinez Comes Off The Bench to Lead Atlanta United To A Comeback Win.
Not exactly known for its aerial arsenal, Atlanta United scored off of three headers to beat a resilient D.C. United side 3-2 before 42,000+ at Mercedes Benz Stadium. The systemic defensive issues again put Atlanta in a tough situation, but the resurgence of their attacking prowess overcame Wayne Rooney's side to earn the three points. Here are some short takes on yesterday afternoon's match:
Yesterday was the first time this year that Atlanta earned three points after their opponent scored first. This result was a combination of the Five Stripes starting to develop a better mentality on the field, as well as D.C. United's unwillingness to challenge in the air. Leaving Josef Martinez unmarked at the penalty spot is never a good idea.
Santiago Sosa - the 23-year-old midfielder, who Atlanta United signed from River Plate in February of 2021, is starting to impose his will as the boss of the Five Stripes midfield. A relentless work rate, ball-winning toughness, and good vision to deliver line-breaking passes lends itself to a solid midfielder so desperately needed by Atlanta.
Juan José Purata's addition to the Five Stripes has paid dividends. He has added needed leadership to a backline that has given up senseless goals all season long. To add to his defensive abilities, "JuanJo" also has shown his prowess with restarts - scoring a winning header yesterday to earn the three points.
The playoff run report: In my last post, I offered up my predictions for Atlanta's last eight games. "Sunday home to D.C. United - on paper, this is three points in the bag for Atlanta. Wayne Rooney's side is coming off a demeaning 6-0 loss to Philadelphia and it does not seem likely that they bounce back in Mercedes Benz Stadium. Net 3." I was wrong about D.C. United not bouncing back after a 6-0 loss to Philadelphia - they put in a good effort yesterday, but Atlanta was the better side and earned the three points.
Speaking of Philadelphia, Wednesday night will be a rough test for the Five Stripes at Subaru Park. My prediction, with the Union already in the playoffs, is that Atlanta will somehow scrape out a point. It will take a massive effort, a bit of luck, and MAYBE a bit of a tactical change from Atlanta manager Gonzalo Pineda?
Seven games remain in the regular season and Atlanta now finds itself three points from the crowded seventh-place playoff line. No matter Atlanta's results in the run up to the playoffs...this will take a combination of results from the Five Stripes' Eastern Conference foes to somehow get into post-season play.
Next game: Wednesday, August 31 at 7:30PM EDT. Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes.
Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net