Atlanta United Football Club returned home to Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta to face the visiting Houston Dynamo. There weren’t any changes to the starting XI as manager Tata Martino opted for Tito Villalba over Kenwyne Jones to anchor his 4-2-3-1 attack.
The Five Stripes had been completely hit or miss the first 20 minutes of action. At times there were great defensive stops and jaw-dropping clearances, but those would quickly get overshadowed by the amount of balls given away and bad passes in the final third.
The team had been working vigorously to get a goal but without much creativity. Luckily for United, that changed in the 29′ when Miguel Almirón nabbed a free ball and launched a rocket into the top corner netting.
During a counterattack in the 41′, the ball fell not once, but twice to Miguel Almirón who launched another rocket into the opposite side netting for his second goal of the night. Miggy, a nickname given by fans and media alike, had been the wizard behind all of United’s chances on the night playing a role in both creation and possession.
Things got extremely chippy to kick off the second half. A hard foul on Yamil Asad was contested but no card was given. There were verbal exchanges made and then Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis kicked the ball out of play (as a courtesy so injured players can get counsel from the physios). But for some reason as the ball went out of play, United manager Tata Martino was called for interfering with the ball and was ejected from the match. Fans and players alike were furious at the charge and it’s very common for managers to kick the ball once it’s out of play.
A run of luck came yet again as Julian Gressel appeared to have lost the ball on a bad touch in the penalty box, only to have the ball bounce off a defender back to his feet. Once he realized the ball fell in front of him, he took one good touch and tapped in his first goal of the night.
Soon after in the 80′, Atlanta United was given a penalty kick for a hard foul in the box. Naturally, they let Almirón take it to complete his hat-trick which brought the scoreline to 4-0 in favor of United.
As the drubbing was beginning to worsen, the Dynamo were gifted a penalty late in the 88′ when a blocked shot attempt was whistled for a handball. Erick Torres completed the task and made the score 4-1. With that converted penalty try, Houston stole Alec Kann’s clean sheet from under him.
Atlanta United Stats:
5 Shots On Target
78.9% Passing Accuracy
Houston Dynamo Stats:
5 Shots On Target
68.2% Passing Accuracy
The most telling stat of the night is The Five Stripes going 90 minutes without an offside call. My Man of The Match naturally goes to Miguel ‘Miggy’ Almirón with an honorable mention going to Alec Kann who came up with some big-time saves to keep United above the fray in front of their fourth straight sellout home crowd.
Atlanta United play host to New York City FC next Sunday, May 28. The Five Stripes are hoping to turn the tide in their favor for the reverse fixture in Atlanta.