After a much-needed break, the five stripes were back in action, this time on the road against the New England Revolution. Sporting the King Peach kit, the lads from “way down South” had a lot to prove.
Coming off of two straight home matches where questionable officiating was the headline (as well as tonight), Atlanta needed a win, a convincing win, and to truly test their depth. The last meeting saw United score a touchdown at home against NE (7-0) so it was understandable for the Revolution to want some revenge.
With the announcement of Greg Garza’s shoulder surgery (out 4-6 months) and the absence of Leandro Gónzalez-Pirez (Yellow Card accumulation), manager Tata Martino called upon the fresh legs of Mikey Ambrose on the left flank. Recently recovered Chris McCann and Franco Escobar were called upon to help captain Michael Parkhurst anchor the backline.
What could’ve been a 5-0 win was supposed to be a 1-0 win but turned out to be a 1-1 draw. Why you might ask? Because Atlanta United, yet again, had their hopes dashed to bits because of officiating. A soft foul in the box by Kevin Kratz gave the Revolution a penalty kick. Michael Parkhurst was asked if he was surprised that the penalty wasn’t reviewed, he responded: “I’m not surprised by anything anymore.” The last thing United wanted was even more controversy with the officials and this time in the 87′. But they shouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place.
Yes, NER was gifted a soft PK, but Atlanta had countless chances to score. Barco had close to five on his own but couldn’t convert and there were three separate times the ball was inches from goal with nobody around for the easy tap-in. Aside from that, their attack and defense were fantastic. This is the first time Ambrose has seen first-team action in close to a year, Escobar played well coming off an injury, Julian Gressel and Darlington Nagbe had monster performances, and Miguel Almirón showed plenty of pace and created chances throughout the match.
Another frustrating match ends in subpar fashion for United. They’ll head home and prepare for Philadelphia Union this Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta certainly outplayed the Revolution tonight and deserve the win, but as an old wise man with a vuvuzela once told me, “Hey, that’s just football.”
Photo: Courtesy of ATLUTD