Lets start off with a recap of Sunday’s Match vs NYCFC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in which Atlanta United picked up a 2-1 victory in what was a close and entertaining matchup between both teams that have played some very interesting and goal packed matches in the past few seasons. Atlanta came in on Sunday looking to continue there dominant win streak at home and move to the top of the Eastern Conference Standings by the end of the day with a win, depending on other results of course. NYCFC were looking to play spoils and come out of the Benz with salvaging some kind of successful result and stealing some points on the road, although knowing that it is incredibly, if not impossible to beat Atlanta United on their own turf no matter how good or strategic your gameplan method is. With Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco starting up top as the front three attackers, you just know you’re going to have all sorts of problems defensively trying to contain these guys, stopping them is doubtful with all the talent all 3 players combined have. Plus, with Julian Gressel and Franco Escobar flanking down the far sides, pushing up field with speed offensively on counter attacks and charging down defenders down the wing it made things twice as hard for NYCFC to break down United’s defense. And knowing well you have two solid centerbacks in LGP and Miles Robinson and the brick wall in goal known as Brad Guzan who has the most clean sheets in MLS with 11, lets just say to our opponents, good luck :). Atlanta got off on the front foot very early in the first half with Josef Martinez having an opportunity to score 3 minutes into the match but his shot was denied by GK Sean Johnson. In the 33rd minute Miles Robinson that he had his first career goal with United after scoring a header off a free-kick from Pity Martinez, but after VAR the ref disallowed the goal after Miles Robinson was called for a push in the box on the defender who was covering him, unfortunate. Finally, in the 42nd minute United got themselves on the scoresheet with a thunderous and powerful header by Josef Martinez who skied over the defender to head the ball towards goal and into the net, assist credit to Julian Gressel. With that goal he set another MLS record with at least a goal scored in 10 straight matches, think it’s time someone starts buliding that statue right? In the 62nd minute United were awarded a penalty after Pity Martinez was fouled inside the box, he even tried to convince Josef to let him take the PK, but Josef was not having any of that, the king is the penalty kick master, maybe next time though Pity. With no hesitation, Josef took his penalty and scored with no problem, doubling United’s lead halfway through the second half. In the 81st minute though, NYCFC were not going down without a fight and the Brazilian substitute Heber scored a low driven laser past Brad Guzan, a difficult shot that was to try and save, it had some speed to it and cut United’s lead down to one with about less than 10 minutes left and stoppage time to hold on to the lead. It was a nervy last 10 minutes of the match but United were able to hold on and claim victory over NYCFC by a final result of 2-1 and United continue their win streak at home. Next up, Campeones Cup vs. Mexican Giants Club America, this one is gonna be fun.
Tonight at Mercedes-Benz Stadium the two best teams of the MLS and Liga MX will compete in the Campeones Cup Match to determine who is the best of the best between the two sides. Both teams are expected to bring their strongest or first team lineups out to play in what should be a very entertaining and exciting match between two of the best sides in North America and CONCACAF. Atlanta United have played only once against a Mexican side in the CONCACAF Champions League vs. Monterrey in which United were eliminated in the Quarterfinals by a total aggregate result of 3-1 for Rayados. Monterrey won the first game in Mexico dominating Atlanta 3-0 and then the return match in which United won at home 1-0 in a better showing and performance against one of the better sides in Liga MX so it was a positive sendoff for the team to say the least. That of course was at the beginning of the season when United were still trying to find out their identity and when the players were still adjusting to a new coaching staff playing style, strategically and tactically it was a hard transition but in the past month or so United are returning to their consistent winning ways especially at home in the fortress of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This match will likely be different from the Monterrey series back in March for a few different reasons, if United bring out their strongest side which they will most likely do, then it’s anybody’s match for the taking, I believe United and America are two even sides with a similar playing style to each other and even though it will be very difficult to pull off a victory against a very successful side who have played in these crucial games before, it’s always possible to get a victory. We saw that when United beat Rayados back in March, even though United were eliminated they played really well at home in the 2nd leg vs. Monterrey and we could’ve maid the match much closer if it were not for some miraculous saves by the GK, so that is one positive to build on. Secondly, we have the talent and players to pull this off! there really should not be a whole lot of excuses if we lose this game because I believe this team has the quality and power to break down opponents in any sort of environment, whether at home or away they know the expectations of United fans when it comes down to these big matches against more notable and impressive clubs like Club America and Monterrey, just to name a few. In conclusion, the most important result tonight for United is obviously to get the big victory over a Mexican Side in the Campeones Cup and add more silverware to the trophy case, easier said then done but it is certainly possible with what this team has achieved the past two seasons from the first match at Bobby Dodd, to hoisting the MLS Cup trophy on that cold and rainy night in December and up until now. VAMOS UNITED!!!
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Edin Pelja |@Julio_Goat Twitter | @ATLSportsHQ Twitter/IG