Atlanta United made a statement win against D.C. United after besting them 3-1 in front of 42,539 of their home fans. With tonight’s goal, Giorgis Giakoumakis is now the fastest player in club history to score 10 goals. Andrew Gutman scored his third goal of the season, as did Tyler Wolff. Ozzie Alonso was subbed on late into the match, making his first appearance in 14 months since recovering from an ACL injury in April 2022.
It was a good team victory for Atlanta United, but the real story of the night comes from the youth. This fresh crop of homegrowns should put fans at ease when thinking about the future. Tonight featured four homegrown talents in Ajani “Jay” Fortune, Machop Chol, Caleb Wiley, and Tyler Wolff. Wiley made his first start since his return from the U-20 FIFA World Cup and Fortune made his first MLS start for the club. I asked him how getting his first start and seeing the other homegrowns get time on the field affected his confidence.
“It’s a big boost for sure”, he began. “To know that I have trust from the coach and the staff around me and the players around me as well. That they trust me in these situations is big.”
When I spoke with fellow homegrown Machop Chol, his sentiments were similar. “I’m feeling good, I’m grateful for the staff that they’re trusting me more and giving me these opportunities,” he said. “For me, now it’s just making the most of it.”
Atlanta United’s first chance came in the 3rd minute when Derrick Etienne Jr. dribbled down the right flank and sent a low cross into the box. The cross came just behind a pacing Giorgis Giakoumakis and was cleared out of bounds for a corner.
In the 13th minute, a counterattacking Atlanta side caught D.C.’s goalkeeper Tyler Miller not just off his line, but outside the box. Miles Robinson had sent a long ball cross-field to Giorgis Giakoumakis, which spurned the keeper to leave the box. At just the right angle, Giakoumakis took a soft touch, which saw the ball calmly roll into the back of the net.
In the 27th minute, D. C. United leveled the match with a goal of their own. On a counterattack, Chris Durkin found Taxi Fountas in open space. Fountas dribbled about 10 yards before he fired a shot into the far side netting, beating Brad Guzan.
Just four minutes into the second half, Atlanta’s Andrew Gutman put the five stripes ahead with a goal. Gutman played a quick one-two with Thiago Almada and beat Tyler Miller on his near side.
It looked like Tyler Wolff had broadened the lead in the 73rd minute but he was called offside. On a counterattack, Gutman was streaking down the left flank and eventually dribbled into the box. Once he came within a few yards of Tyler Miller, he sent a low cross in front of goal that found a sliding Wolff in the nick of time. After a VAR review, the call was overturned and Wolff was given the goal, giving Atlanta a two-goal cushion.
When subbed on with eight minutes left to go in regulation, Machop Chol saw an opportunity to widen the gap and he took it. Chol had found space on the left side, cut inside, and sent what looked to be a low cross into the box for Miguel Berry. But later after the match, he admitted that he went for glory.
Atlanta United (7-4-7, 28 points) returns to action when it hosts New York City FC on Wednesday, June 21 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (7:30 p.m. EDT, MLS Season Pass, 92.9 The Game, La Mejor). All Atlanta United matches are available with an MLS Season Pass subscription, located on the Apple TV app.
Photos: Courtesy of ATLUTD