Atlanta United defeated Inter Miami 5-2 in front of 71,635 fans in attendance. It was confirmed long before the match that Lionel Messi did not travel with Inter Miami’s squad, but the massive crowd received a treat in a seven-goal thriller.

Before the match, a press conference was held inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the official announcement of U.S. Soccer’s plans to relocate their headquarters to Atlanta along with Arthur Blank’s $50 million pledge to assist in building a world-class training facility. Those in attendance included Arthur Blank (Atlanta United/Atlanta Falcons owner), Cindy Parlow Cone (U.S. Soccer President), Andrew Dickens (Mayor of Atlanta), Don Garber (MLS Commissioner), and JT Batson (U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General).

From L to r: Don Garber (MLS Commissioner), Cindy Parlow Cone (U.S. Soccer President), Arthur Blank (Atlanta Businessman), JT Batson (U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General), Mayor Andrew Dickens (Mayor of Atlanta), and Steven Cannon (Vice Chairman/AMBSE) (Photo: Jon Jones)

In the 25th minute, Leonardo Campana broke the deadlock and put Miami ahead. After a teammate’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar, Campana controlled the ball with his left, lobbed it over Miles Robinson’s head, and then took the shot with his left.

In the 36th minute, Tristan Muyumba opened his goal account to extend Atlanta United’s lead. Brooks Lennon was credited with the assist after playing a beautiful cross into the box that found the head of the Frenchman.

In the 41st minute, Xande Silva sent a low cross into the box that took a deflection off a defender, and into the back of the net. Inter Miami’s Kamal Miller was credited with the own goal. Three minutes later, Brooks Lennon scored a goal from point-blank range in front of the keeper.

Atlanta United midfielder Tristan Muyumba #8 dribbles during the first half of the match against Inter Miami at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Saturday, September 16, 2023. (Photo by Mitch Martin/Atlanta United)

With the match 3-1 at halftime, Atlanta United had every reason to be confident that a Messi-less Inter Miami would be outdone.

But Miami would not give up. After a Leo Campana penalty kick was converted (his 20th goal of the season), Inter turned up the pressure and their physicality.

With 15 minutes to play, the five stripes created a counterattack on the left side. It started with Xande Silva outgunning two defenders and cutting back to hold up play. Once held up, he properly laid it off to a sprinting Thiago Almada who then found substitute Saba Lobjanidze down the right flank. Lobjanidze then sent a low cross to Giorgis Giakoumakis in open space in front of goal for the easy tap-in. Almada was credited with his 15th assist of the season; a new Atlanta record.

The goal-fest didn’t stop there. In the 89th minute, when it looked like Saba was going for glory on a counterattack, he laid the ball off to substitute Tyler Wolff who fired a rocket past goalkeeper Drake Callender. That was Lobjanidze’s second assist of the night.

Atlanta United sits in 6th place in the Eastern Conference standings. They’ll have a few days to savor their victory and then head to the nation’s capitol to face D.C. United on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

-Jon Jones

Photos: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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