Atlanta United played to a 0-0 draw against New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium Saturday night. Our draw, along with New York City FC’s, has us sitting in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.
“For me, it’s a good point,” Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino said. “We didn’t play the way we usually play, but we tried to do something different to save our legs a little and bet on a more direct approach. I have the feeling that at the end of the game we were close to losing it, but I also feel that in the first half we were close to winning it.”
Atlanta’s biggest opportunities came early in the first half. In the 14′, Julian Gressel played Anton Walkes down the right flank where the right back whipped a cross to Tito Villalba. The Argentine got a head on the ball, but his attempt drifted just wide of the post. Minutes later, Villalba played Josef Martinez into a 1 v 1 situation with Revolution defender Antonio Mlinar Delamea. Martinez created space and got off a powerful left-footed shot which bounced off New England goalkeeper Brad Knighton. Villalba raced onto the loose ball, but Knighton pounced on it to deny the opportunity.
Despite controlling the ball for the majority of the match, New England was never able to penetrate Atlanta’s backline. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan delivered a man-of-the-match performance with his fourth-consecutive clean sheet, his seventh this season while supplying five saves to match his season-high.
In the final play of the match, New England earned a free kick in stoppage time at the edge of Atlanta’s penalty area. Midfielder Lee Nguyen floated the ball towards the back post where it was met by a Juan Agudelo header. The ball looped toward the goal, but Guzan leaped to secure it while bodies crashed into him. Atlanta played the ball to the other half of the field for the final whistle.
Since Tata mentioned legs, United will be keeping a special eye on Josef Martinez and Brad Guzan, as both stars have been called up for international duty October 5 – 10. Martinez and Venezuela will face Uruguay and Paraguay and Guzan will help the U.S. against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.
Atlanta United (15-8-8, 53 points) returns to action Tuesday, Oct. 3 when it takes on Minnesota United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports South.
*Photos courtesy of ATLUTD