The long-awaited battle between the two hottest teams in the league ended in a seven-goal thriller with LAFC as the victors. It was an entertaining night of football as the Madrid Derby played to a colossal ten goals (ending 7-3 in favor of Atletico) right before tonight’s clash of conferences. The 4-3 victory was exactly what LA needed coming off of a loss but couldn’t have come at a worse time for Atlanta, who’ve now lost six straight on the road.
Atlanta United opened up the scoring early in the 2′ minute when they made the most from a setpiece. A long ball was sent to the far post from a setpiece that found the head of Franco Escobar. Escobar headed the ball to the center of the penalty area where Mo Adams took one touch and fired home his first professional goal and his first with Atlanta United.
LAFC retaliated in the 33′ minute with a goal from Adama Diomande. On a counterattack, Diomande turned González-Pirez and made a run into the penalty area. A perfect through ball found its way past LGP and Diomande sent it home past Brad Guzan with a one-time effort. That made for his fourth goal in four matches.
Before LAFC can fully celebrate Diego Rossi’s goal in the 38′ minute, they earned themselves a penalty less than a minute later. On Rossi’s goal, it looked like Carlos Vela may have been offside but VAR said otherwise, along with the foul on Carlos Vela. The Mexican starlet stepped up to the spot and went to Guzan’s opposite side to the roaring approval of the home crowd.
The goals kept coming for LAFC. Diomande notched his first assist of the night when he sent a cross into the box that found Eduard Atuesta. Once he settled the ball, he beat Guzan in front of goal to lift the host’s tally to four.
In the dying embers of the first half, Atlanta United went on the attack. Julian Gressel sent a low cross into the box that found the boot of Josef Martinez. With the Venezuelan sure of foot, he took no chance with any touches and sent a one-timed effort into the near corner netting.
The second half started as quickly as the first and Atlanta wasted no time getting settled into their attack. Darlington Nagbe was speeding down the left flank and sent a pass to Justin Meram in the attacking third. Meram dribbled along the goal line and tried to send a low cross into the penalty area but the ball was deflected by LA’s Eddie Segura and found the back of their own netting. That would be the final goal of the evening.
The remainder of the match was physical, competitive, and both sides had plenty of chances to change the scoreline. But in the end, what stole the show was the happenings away from the ball. Newly hired Frank de Boer made some questionable, Jill Ellis-like changes that had heads scratching. Justin Meram came on at the start of the second half but he was subbed in for Mo Adams, who scored their first goal and looked hungry for more. But things really changed when he pulled Pity Martinez for Ezequiel Barco. Now I, along with many, thought that Hyndman would be pulled for being a nonfactor for the bulk of the match but was able to finish the match on the pitch. Once Pity made it to the touchline, he ignored de Boer, not even looking his direction, then kicked a set of water bottles. It’s no secret that the two have been at odds for months with Pity most recently making comments about de Boer to press in Argentina.
It takes a lot for a coach to humble himself and adjust when his personal style and tactics aren’t working. Enforcing a possession game on an attack-minded club with attacking players was doomed to have massive limitations before the experiment even began. With players unhappy and the team lacking any sort of rhythm, it’s almost a shame that you can see the month of August over the horizon. That means not one but two chances at silverware with the upcoming Campeones Cup (against Club America) and the U.S. Open Cup (against Orlando City SC).
With the MLS All-Star Game coming up next Wednesday, July 31, the players will have a week off and host the LA Galaxy on Saturday, Aug. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Photo: Hakim Wright