Atlanta United kicked off the night setting a new U.S. Open Cup attendance record with 41,012 people in attendance. Not only is that impressive for a weekday match, but a weekday match during the World Cup no less. This couldn’t come at a better time since all the World Cup matches are usually finished by 4 p.m. So you can catch the last match of the day in Russia and then head downtown to support the home team. Perfect.
Tonight the Five Stripes host the Chicago Fire. What stood out to me immediately was that Atlanta took advantage of their bench while Chicago used their regular starting XI. The starting XI for Atlanta went as follows:
Alec Kann, Miles Robinson, Mikey Ambrose, Sal Zizzo, Leandro Gónzalez-Pirez (c), Miguel Almirón, Brandon Vasquez, Kevin Kratz, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Tito Villalba, Romario Williams
The first half was very quiet for both sides who shared two shots on target each. The second half, however, was a different story. A long ball (Atlanta’s Achilles heel) exposed United’s defense. Leandro Gónzalez-Pirez did a good job closing down the attack but the rest of the backline converged on the ball as well, leaving two open men on the wings. As Bastian Schweinsteiger sent a perfect through ball Luis Solignac, Nemanja Nikolic came down the right flank and crushed the ball into the back of the net.
In the 71′, Villalba took a crack inside the box that flew off the post and went out of bounds for a corner. That was about as much action as United would see the rest of the match.
The long ball defeated the Five Stripes once again and there was no referee mistakes or VAR to blame for the result. It was simply a poor outing for the club, and it happens, it’s football. It was a decent opportunity to get the 2nd team some much needed minutes but this also shows they might not be ready to take on a load like this. Not to mention they are definitely missing Greg Garza.
Atlanta United will pick up the pieces and get ready for their home match against the Portland Timbers.
Photos: Courtesy of ATLUTD