Atlanta United defeated CF Monterrey 1-0 Wednesday Night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League play. Unfortunately, their 1-0 win wasn’t enough to overturn the 3-0 aggregate score before the match so the Rayados will advance (3-1) to the Champions League semifinal.
In the opening 10 minutes, Atlanta saw their chance after a Monterrey turnover in the midfield. Ezequiel Barco sent a through ball to Josef Martinez but his shot was blocked by Marcelo Barovero. Pity Martinez had two attempts within minutes of each other but both buzzed over the crossbar.
Atlanta finally hit paydirt in the 77′ with a solid give-and-go between Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez. Their tight passes in traffic were enough to penetrate the Rayados’ back line and Martinez fired it home into the top-right corner.
Atlanta United came out in their 3-4-3 formation that’s been implemented this season. There were multiple changes on the bench and two changes to the starting XI. Jeff Larentowicz played CB in place of Leandro González-Pirez (suspension) and Mikey Ambrose got the start over Brek Shea.
The team as a whole looked much more in step tonight as they faced the Liga MX giants at home for the first time. Monterrey’s defending was a sight to be seen, cutting off lines and filling open spaces left and right. At one point they looked to be man-marking for an entire half. They were tight, they were fluid, and they looked like a team that had been playing with each other for months. Their back line is so solid that Tata called up both César Montes and Miguel Layún to his national team squad for Mexico.
My Man of the Match goes to Miles Robinson. He’s been the silent hero through every match this season with his defending. Tonight, he owned Rogelio Funes Mori and fended off his every advance. Tonight his pace, strength, and intelligence in open space made him an easy pick. His play has been the most pleasant surprise of this sluggish start to the season.
Atlanta may have crashed out of Champions League but they can build off tonight’s win. They looked better in the 3-4-3 tonight, they improved on their attack and the press, and not to be overlooked, but they handed the best team in Mexico their first loss of the year and suffered their first loss to an MLS club since 2011.
Shots: 13-8 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 5-4 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 9-1 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 16-10 Atlanta
Clearances: 26-6 Monterrey
Offside: 4-1 Monterrey
Possession: 63-37 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 84-74 Atlanta
Atlanta United returns to MLS action Sunday, March 17 against Philadelphia Union (7:00 p.m. EST, Fox Sports South) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Photo: Courtesy of ATLUTD