It was a sigh of relief for Atlanta United fans on Thursday night.
The reigning MLS Cup Champions overcame a 3-1 deficit at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw to complete a comeback and win 4-0 against Costa Rican team Herediano.
Atlanta United will now move on to the Quarterfinals and play against Liga MX giants Monterrey, Nickname “Rayados” meaning “The Striped Ones” referring to their Dark Blue Navy and White striped jerseys. The dates and fixtures have been announced for both legs. United will travel for the first leg in Monterrey, Mexico on Wednesday, March 6th kickoff is set for 10 P.M. ET and the second leg will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Wednesday, March 13th. Kickoff for this game is set for 8 P.M. ET. Both games will be available to live stream on the Yahoo Sports website and Yahoo Sports App for those who want English commentary and will be televised on Univision Sports for those who prefer Spanish Commentary.
It didn’t take long for Atlanta to get their first goal as in just under 50 seconds the reigning MVP Josef Martinez capitalized on a missed clearance by the defender from the low driven cross of Brek Shea and Josef struck the ball in the back of the net without any hesitation. From their Atlanta were well on their way to a convincing victory. The second goal came from Julian Gressel about 8 minutes later in the 9th minute as a reverse pass from Ezequiel Barco came to the feet of Gressel who took a touch and strikes the ball in the bottom corner on the left side of the goal.
United tied the aggregate to 3-3 with the away goal in Costa Rica doing a big favor in that moment. In the 63rd minute Josef Martinez would get his second goal of the night assisted by Brek Shea who had a great performance. Shea would receive a great pass up field from midfielder Eric Remedi and easily Shea would pass the ball into the box with Martinez wide open and finishing on the wide open goal making it 3-0.
Finally, the icing on the cake came from centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez as a great cross from Barco led to LGP rising up to win the header and aim at goal making the result 4-0 for Atlanta in the 83rd minute sealing the deal for the 5-Stripes and booking them a spot in the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Honorable mentions go to players like Brek Shea and Ezequiel Barco.
Shea was able to get the ball in the box for United’s first goal which allowed Martinez to pounce on a deflected ball by a defender which opened up the scoring and floodgates for United to pile up more. Shea would assist once again Martinez on the third goal making Atlanta’s lead in the game a comfortable 3-0, overall he played very well in his debut for United as he looks to possibly get himself in the Starting XI for the most of the season.
Deservably, Ezequiel Barco was Man of the Match last night with 2 assists on Gressel’s goal to make it 2-0 and on a cross in which LGP’s header made it 4-0 closing the night off with a statement. The record MLS signing had a night to remember.
Midfield and Defensive performances were much better as well with Herediano applying very little pressure and being contained with a very limited amount of shots. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan had a great save in stoppage time at the end to keep a clean sheet.
Although the referee did not make calls which should have been obvious foul calls and possibly even a red card with Barco being tackled from behind on a clear goal opportunity late in the first half, United were able to maintain and keep their cool allowing them to finish off the game with no other problems.
This performance by Atlanta United reminded us of glimpses and flashbacks from the championship team last season, that this team has the talent, capability and strength to go challenge anybody in their way and give a full team effort to get the performance and most importantly the victory they want.
Next up, Atlanta will open their MLS Season in D.C. as they take on Wayne Rooney and D.C. United Sunday, March 3 at 6 P.M. on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. VAMOS UNITED!
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