Atlanta United gave FC Cincinnati all they could handle in a 2-1 victory Saturday night in front of a crowd of 69,301, the 10th most in Major League Soccer regular-season history. With this feat, Atlanta owns all 10 spots for attendance records in MLS. The club’s dominant play should calm some nerves as this was their first test without their record-breaking goalscoring threat, Josef Martinez. Goals from Ezequiel Barco and Emerson Hyndman were enough to push past Cincinnati.
Ezequiel Barco opened up the scoring for Atlanta in the 20′ minute. As Pity Martinez was attacking down the right flank, he laid the ball off just as he approached the goal line. The pass rolled about three yards before dodging a diving goalkeeper and landed at the feet of a sliding Barco.
In the 54′ minute, the goalscorer played an assisting role for the club’s second goal. Barco controlled the ball in the attacking third. He held up play, waited for Emerson Hyndman, and Hyndman positioned himself just right between two defenders and took a low shot near-side that slipped past the keeper.
Atlanta United was dominating the match, with Cincinnati squandering chance after chance… But they wouldn’t give up. In the 64′ minute, time and Brad Guzan stood still as Yuya Kubo sent a rocket from 20-yards out that started straight but curved right as Guzan was about to catch it. With 25 minutes left to play, FC Cincinnati was back in the game.
The five stripes totaled the following stats:
57.1% Duels Won
597 Total Passes
84.4% Pass Accuracy
Both sides had a chance to turn the tide in their favor but Hyndman’s goal would turn out to be enough. My Man of the Match goes to Ezequiel Barco for his goal and assist that pushed Atlanta to their second straight MLS-win.
In a match that saw quality team synergy, quality goals, and an MLS debut in George Campbell, there was also the head injury to recent first team-signee, Laurence Wyke. Manager Frank de Boer couldn’t tell us any details after the match but he did mention the importance of being careful with his upcoming selection. “We have to be careful and listen to our players and go from there.”
He was pressed on if he quietly had a focus on one tournament more than another and he’s pushing for the league title. “You don’t wanna take big risks and I’m not gonna risk any players (overplaying them and risking injury). MLS Cup is the most important one because then you can play Concacaf (Champions League) again next season.”
With Atlanta winning their first home test of the season they can now turn their attention to Concacaf Champions League. “We have to really play as a team. You’ve seen it today and I think we have enough quality to play in Estadio Azteca” said de Boer on the team’s confidence going into next week against Club América. “We have to be really clever… Recovery will start today and we’ll have to be ready for Wednesday. It’s gonna be a tough game that’s for sure but hopefully, we can get a good result.”
Photos: Courtesy of ATLUTD