It was a wet and rainy Wednesday night in Orlando, Florida but that didn’t stop the fans or the action at the 2019 MLS All-Star Game. After a 30-minute weather delay, the match started as fast-paced as you’d expect for an exhibition featuring Atletico Madrid.
It was a tightly contested affair from the first whistle. Even though the MLS All-Stars out-possessed Atletico Madrid 52%-28% in the first half, the Spaniards were the ones to strike first blood. Rodrigo Riquelme played a through ball to Marcos Llorente who slotted home a low ball to the bottom-right corner.
Fans from around the country came to see their domestic league favorites as well as those from Atletico Madrid. João Félix, Ángel Correa, and Diego Costa are just a few names that drew large crowds during the week. Atlanta fans would be happy to see Pity Martinez playing well, bringing back memories of his top-level play at River Plate.
In the 79′, Martinez was brought down just outside the 18. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ezequiel Barco stepped up to the spot, but the Argentine was the one to strike. His right-footed effort curled around the wall but was parried away by Jan Oblak.
The La Liga giants sealed the match in the 85′ minute with a goal from João Félix and another, six minutes later, from Diego Costa.
The MLS All-Stars had their chances in the second half but could never find the finishing touch necessary to draw level. “I actually thought that the second half, the fellas did a really good job of obviously pressing, counter-pressing, and staying in their half,” said MLS All-Star coach James O’Connor. “For me, the second half, the passages of play, the movements, there were some good opportunities for some of the guys.”
Out of all the events that took place this week, it was clear that the game was the most fun. “The best part of the week was tonight’s game,” said Atlanta United’s Leandro González-Pirez. “Being with these players down here has been really great.”
Now that all-star week is over it’s back to business. Atlanta will be back in Orlando next Tuesday, August 6, for their U.S. Open Cup clash with their rivals, but not before they face the LA Galaxy at home this Saturday.
Photo: Hakim Wright