Atlanta United defeated the Colorado Rapids thanks to goals from Miguel Almirón and Tito Villalba. Almirón’s brace took all of seven minutes with goals in the 10′ and 18′ while Villalba’s came in the 37′. Atlanta tied an MLS record nine away wins today after beating Colorado 3-0. After today, two more wins and a draw will clinch a playoff spot and 13 points will earn them a Champions League spot.
Atlanta manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino made a handful of changes for today’s contest. Coming out in a 3-5-2, the Five Stripes moved Jeff Larentowicz to the back line for defensive duty on the day and moved Chris McCann forward to play left wing. Central midfield welcomed back Darlington Nagbe who suffered a right adductor injury in June. Along with a healthy Nagbe, recent signing Eric Remedi was tasked to defend the midfield. Almirón was in the central attacking midfield, Josef Martinez was in his usual striker position with Tito Villalba playing a support role further up the pitch but just behind Martinez. With this kind of strength in the starting XI, Tata had options like Franco Escobar, George Bello, Ezequiel Barco, and Andrew Carleton on the bench.
An Atlanta favorite, Miguel “Miggy” Almirón is one of three MLS players with double-digit tallies in both goals (11) and assists (12). His first goal came when Julian Gressel launched a low cross (about 25-yards away) from the right flank that Martinez let off so Almirón could hammer it home with his left (foot). Just eight minutes later, Colorado turned over the ball in their own third. Martinez was there to collect the ball and Atlanta immediately found themselves 2 v 1 on the counterattack. Martinez slowed his pace to allow time for Miggy to stretch the last man in defense and safely tapped a four-yard through-ball into the lower left corner.
Switching to assist mode, Miggy saw a massive opening down the pitch. Gressel received a glorious long-ball from Almirón and sent yet another low cross into the box where this time it found the foot of a sprinting Tito Villalba.
This is Atlanta’s first outing in their west coast stretch, their next will be the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday Night.
My Man of the Match is Miguel Almirón. Sitting at 11 goals and 12 assists, the Paraguayan fan-favorite is peaking heading into the MLS Playoffs and it couldn’t come at a better time. With Miggy’s recent form and the Five Stripes inching towards full-strength, Atlanta should be a force to be reckoned with as the regular season concludes.
Photos: Courtesy of ATLUTD