Tonight Atlanta United faced a formidable opponent out the west in Sporting Kansas City. We knew it’d be a tough matchup going in and we weren’t coming in at 100% (Josef Martinez and Greg Garza were both out with injuries).
The first half was tough for The Five Stripes. Sporting KC was playing tight defense and both sides wasted no time with chippy play. Atlanta was fortunate to not go down to 9 men in the first half with two hard yellows from Jeff Larentowicz and Carlos Carmona.
It was clear Sporting KC received the memo on United’s midfield and all-star Miguel Almirón, because they held up the middle the entire match. This made it extremely difficult to piece together any offense.
Shortly after the second half began, Sporting KC was given a questionable penalty. Benny Feilhaber converted the penalty kick that gave Kansas City the first goal of the match and a 1-nil lead.
Atlanta pushed forward but could not convert on their chances in the final third. At one point late in the match, Sporting lined up with what looked like a six-man backline to take on United’s attack.
Jacob Peterson saved Atlanta’s life in the 91′ and scored a goal that deflected off Brandon Vasquez. Vasquez had penetrated Sporting’s backline when the ball bounced off his leg but deflected straight to Peterson who took an extra touch and slotted it past the keeper. Pulling a page out of Frank Lampard’s Handbook (as a former Chelsea player he scored for Manchester City and refused to celebrate) Peterson refused to celebrate against his former club and downplayed the momentous occasion.
So for the third straight match, Atlanta United leave it late, pulling out either a win or a draw in the closing minutes. The first two saves came from Tito Villalba and tonights from Jacob Peterson, who coincidentally is tonight’s Man of the Match.
Atlanta United will have two weeks off and face D.C. United on August 23, followed by a match against Philadelphia three days later. The great news is that those are their last two away matches for a month, as the club will enjoy a six match home streak at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.