Atlanta United finished their third league match in a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union Sunday Night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta music legends Goodie Mob were there to hammer in the Golden Spike. Philadelphia’s homegrown Brennan Aaronson, in his professional debut, scored his first goal in the 47′ minute. Ezequiel Barco would come in for Tito Villalba in the 67′ minute and score Atlanta’s lone goal in the 69′ with an assist from Julian Gressel. Gressel has now become the fastest player to reach 25 career assists in MLS history by a player without previous professional experience.
Philadelphia was sans new signing Marco Fabián and was relying on the fresh legs of Aaronson and the attack from strikers Cory Burke and Fafà Picault to keep the pressure on Atlanta.
The game was physical from the whistle. Both sides were taking blows throughout the match. Brad Guzan and Josef Martinez took knocks early on but were good to finish the match.
In the 47′ minute, Philadelphia’s Brandon Aaronson came down the left side and dribbled into open space just outside the 18′. He let off an attempt that took a deflection off the inside boot of Leandro González-Pirez which stalled Brad Guzan, unable to make an attempt on the ball.
Ezequiel Barco was substituted into the game for Tito Villalba and made an immediate impact on the pitch. The energy was high and he immediately filled open spaces, demanding the ball and making quick one-touch passes. In the 64′ after great buildup play, Julian Gressel sent in a lofty cross to Josef Martinez. He controlled it in the air with a soft first touch, cueing up an impressive bicycle attempt that headed straight to the bottom near-side netting. Philadelphia’s Andre Blake was there for the diving save. Just five minutes later, Gressel would get another try linking up with Ezequiel Barco. Gressel served up a beautiful cross into the box and Barco found open space and nailed a header in for Atlanta’s first goal.
My Man of the Match for the second consecutive match is Miles Robinson. The one Atlanta United player who had a flawless match and has excelled in every game this season. He completely shut down Cory Burke and Fafà Picault and made two crucial goal-line clearances. “He’s training, playing, and showing his form from the start,” says Atlanta manager Frank de Boer. “He’s an unbelievable athlete and just a normal guy who wants to play football and work hard.”
Shots: 12-11 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 3-2 Philadelphia
Corner kicks: 3-1 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 9-9
Clearances: 19-7 Philadelphia
Offside: 5-0 Philadelphia
Possession: 71-29 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 87-66 Atlanta
Atlanta United (0-1-2, 2 points) returns to action Saturday, March 30 when it travels to play Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium (7:30 p.m. EST, FOX Sports South, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD