In a game where the goals didn’t seem to stop coming, it’s safe to say that my prediction for Wednesday’s match against Toronto FC II was just a bit off ( Coming Back Home) but I still picked the right team to win (Atlanta, of course). The difference between the actual end result and my prediction was 6 goals (5-4 to my 2-1) and, within those, two strikingly well executed free kick stunners from fullback Mikey Ambrose. With Ambrose’s Grade A performance, ATL UTD 2 (2-4-3) jumped back up to 13th in the Eastern Conference of the United Soccer League and walked off Coolray Stadium with the win.
Man of the Match
This Wednesday night, Mitch Hilderbandt was wearing the gloves again for the first time after a decent showing in Atlanta United’s match against Sporting Kansas City and the ATL UTD Academy product, Will Crain, had his first professional start. The fans and spectators were witness to how well developed ATL UTD 2 players are becoming. While it was a collective effort, to me, Mikey Ambrose was the Man of the Match against Toronto FC II. The free kick ball that went slightly over the Toronto wall and curved perfectly to an area where Gianluca Catalano (Toronto FC II goalkeeper) couldn’t get to it in time gave ATL UTD 2 the lead in minute 5 and widened the margin again in minute 40. After this outstanding performance by the El Paso native, the discipline and time Ambrose has been clocking in to improve aspects of his game, especially the free kick, is evident.
After coming up short in their last 4 games, this match reassured Atlanta fans how engaged the team really is from the start to the end. ATL UTD 2 players seemed to be covering space effectively from the back line which allowed them to maintain the majority of the possession for most of the match. With their players all on the same page, ATL was also able to operate accurately so it’s no surprise that ATL nearly doubled the amount of passes made compared to Toronto (516 to 358).
As far as the offense goes, the result speaks for itself. The attacking players like Gallagher and Williams were all hungry to make a statement from the start and were clearly successful in both creating chances and sinking the ball in the back of the net.
ATL UTD 2 was up 3-1 for most of the first half which is a sizable lead in any soccer game. However, Toronto was able tie the score with an even 3-3 by minute 48. In the same way Toronto was able to fight, ATL UTD 2 answered right back with a goal from the team Captain Jon Gallagher and an 80th minute winner from Brandon Vazquez, making the final score 5-4.
One of the reasons ATL UTD 2’s performance was so encouraging is because it showed the tenacity of the players who kept their morale high through the adverse situations that presented themselves throughout the 90 + minutes. In the end, ATL UTD 2 denied Toronto FC II their first win this 2018 USL season and ended their own 4-match drought which couldn’t have come at a better time.
This Saturday on the road, ATL will be facing off with current USL Champs, Louisville City FC for the second time this regular season. Last time Atlanta saw Louisville, they were able to hold them to a 1-1 draw. Louisville continue to stay unbeaten at home but with more experience under their belt since the last time they met, ATL UTD 2 has proven they won’t go down quietly.
Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1