Atlanta United 1-0 over Montreal on Marcelino Moreno's extra time header.
Atlanta United took three points last night over Montreal, but that was not the only story. Over 40,000 fans (called the 17's) attended the game at Atlanta's Mercedes Benz Stadium, which is the largest worldwide crowd to attend a soccer match since March of 2020. Atlanta United's front office made the decision to open the lower bowl under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control. The impact of the very loud crowd had to be energy-generating for both teams.
The Five Stripes continue to be a bit of an enigma, coming out in the first ten minutes with some aggressive attacking and a few good chances. What transpired for the next 80 minutes is not really explainable, other than a Montreal side, coming off a mid-week match in Miami, sitting back and shutting down a good bit of space. Brooks Lennon, Emerson Hyndman and Marcelino Moreno worked very hard to get forward, but Montreal, a very well-coached team, was able to nullify Atlanta's advances until extra time.
I try to stay half-glass full but I do have one issue with Atlanta manager Gabriel Heinze's use of emerging star Santiago Sosa. Yes, I do understand what I will call the hybrid back line, where after the Five Stripes win the ball, the two central defenders split wide and Sosa drops into the middle to be available as an outlet and distributor...but after watching Atlanta play nine games this year (four CCL and 5 League), Sosa is being marginalized in this role. Yes, he is not a pure #8 and certainly not a #10, but his presence on the ball, ability to work through pressure, and accurate distribution dictates that he has a more forward role and responsibility when Atlanta wins the ball. One man's opinion.
One key word last night was rest. After a ridiculous match schedule, Atlanta came into last night's game on a welcomed six days of rest. There is no doubt that when Heinze made the change to have Jake Mulraney enter the game, the combined rest and pace ended up changing the game. After last night, Atlanta once again enjoys a seven-day break - one that they will need as they travel to Seattle for next Sunday afternoon's match. Hopefully, Ezequiel Barco and Jurgen Damm will be back in the eighteen after recovering from their "lower body" injuries.