On Wednesday night, we witnessed one of the best United matches of the clubs history. The way they played against one of the biggest and successful clubs in Mexico (Club America) shows that this team is up to the task, no matter the opponent. In the 2nd edition of the Campeones Cup we saw the two best teams of Liga MX and MLS go at it at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of an announced attendance of over 40,000 people. Lets just say, this matchup lived up to its expectation of everything related to action packed drama, close calls and excitement. It was uncertain whether the two teams would really play up to their strength and put out their best lineup on the pitch, well Atlanta did just that and still got the victory in a match the players wanted to win for themselves and the fans, a huge morale boost heading into the final stretch of the MLS season and we still have another Cup final left to play against Minnesota United on August 27th at the Benz! This party is far from over folks. In this recap of Wednesday Night’s victory, we start off early in the 5th minute when Emerson Hyndman opened up the scoring. It all started with Darlington Nagbe, (in my opinion the MOTM) who drifted a short ball over to Dion Pereira and without hesitation of even thinking a split second of what to do, he flicked the ball toward the feet of Hyndman who found himself open and in a great position to score, and which he did with a shot past the GK, 1-0 good guys. Unfortunately, that lead did not last long because 8 minutes later America would equalize off a goal by Renato Ibarra as he finished off a shot as it hit the top of the bar and went in past GK Alec Kann, all square at 1-1. Then in the 37th minute, Pity Martinez was fouled in the box by a Club America defender when he brought him down inside the penalty box. At first he referee did not call for a PK, but then after being alerted of a possible penalty kick he went to go look at VAR for a second glance, he changed his call and a penalty was awarded to Atlanta. The penalty king Josef Martinez took to the spot as he looked to put his side back in front before the half, but Club America’s goalie had other ideas. GK Oscar Jimenez guessed correctly which way Josef was gonna go and saved the PK and after a brief scramble for the ball in front of the goal, Club America’s defense cleared the ball out for corner kick before Martinez could try and score off the rebound, it would be 1-1 going into halftime.
In the 57th minute Club America would find their second goal of the night by Roger Martinez, in all honesty it was one of the scrappiest goals I have ever seen but the ball went over the goal line giving them the brief 2-1 lead, poor communication between Kann and his defense were likely the main cause. Just 2 minutes later the 36 year old and captain of the match, Jeff Larentowicz let one rip from distance and as he struck the shot towards it took a slight deflection off a defender which changed the trajectory of the ball going towards goal and there was nothing the goalie good to about that except watch it go into the back of the net, tie game. Once again not long after Larentowicz’s goal in the 64th minute Florentin Pogba was brought down inside the box and clearly it was a foul in which the ref pointed to the penalty spot giving Josef Martinez to redeem himself in which he did with authority and power as he went to the right of goal, the goalie guessed correctly but could not make get a fingertip on Martinez’s rocket of a strike, 3-2 United. Things got a whole lot worse for Club America as defender Bruno Valdez was sent off in the 72nd minute after a foul on Josef Martinez, with that he was given a second yellow and his marching duties toward the locker room, great for United though. From there Atlanta United were able to see off the next 20 minutes or so and hold on to claim glorious victory over Club America in the Campeones Cup by a final result of 3-2, what a feeling to be the Champs of the Champions Cup.
This was definitely one Atlanta United’s best performances in franchise history and will be remembered as for now, second best with MLS Cup being undeniably the first for a while. With the U.S. Open Cup final against Minnesota United coming up on August 27th at the Benz and United still being one of the best teams in MLS and sitting 2nd in the Eastern Conference Table, there is still a lot of room in those trophy cases left, I’m just saying. Atlanta United’s next match will be on Sunday, August 18th against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park in a rematch of the 2018 MLS Cup. Kickoff is set for 10 PM, unfortunately and will be live on FS1. VAMOS UNITED!!!
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Edin Pelja |@Julio_Goat Twitter | @ATLSportsHQ Twitter/IG