Atlanta United’s winless streak comes to an end as the five stripes topped the Columbus Crew 3-2 on the road. One goal for Marcelino Moreno, two for Ezequiel Barco, and three points for Atlanta to end an exciting MLS match day.
The first goal came from beautiful linkup play between George Bello and Ezequiel Barco. Barco was late in getting Bello the ball after he made a run, but laid off the ball a few seconds later. Bello quickly flicked the ball back to Barco with his heel and watched the man affectionately referred to as “Little Boat” best the goalkeeper Room and score the game’s first goal.
I’m really happy for coach Rob. I’ve been with him since he was an assistant of the 2’s (ATL UTD 2). Just seeing him get that win, I’m really happy for him.”George Bello
Atlanta doubled its lead in the 35th minute. Moreno received the ball on the left side of the box and took on two Columbus players off the dribble before being taken down and winning a penalty. Barco stepped up to the spot and calmly slotted his penalty kick to the right as Room dove the other way.
Columbus responded in the 37th minute off a corner kick. Lucas Zelarayán swung in a corner from the right side and Jonathan Mensah was able to get across his defender and head the ball past Brad Guzan.
Moreno won a second penalty in the 64th minute as he weaved between two Columbus defenders and was taken down near the penalty spot. Atlanta’s No. 10 placed his penalty to the lower-left corner of the goal for his sixth goal of the season.
Columbus pulled within one goal in the first minute of stoppage time from a penalty kick. Alan Franco fouled Mensah in the box, and Pedro Santos scored the penalty with a shot to the left side, sending Guzan the other way. Despite six minutes of added time, Atlanta was able to hang on and preserve the win.
After 12 games without a win, Atlanta United pull off a victory on the road. “It feels great. The atmosphere in the locker room after was really good, really buzzing,” said Atlanta United’s George Bello after the match.
The win also marks the first for interim head coach Rob Valentino, who is a favorite among the players.
“I’m really happy for coach Rob. I’ve been with him since he was an assistant of the 2’s (ATL UTD 2). Just seeing him get that win, I’m really happy for him.”
Atlanta (3-6-9, 18 points) returns to action Sunday when it hosts Los Angeles Football Club at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN/ESPN Deportes, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game, La Mejor).
Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD