Commentary

Finally, Atlanta United won big and looked good doing it

Finally, it looked like Atlanta United of old, beating up on injury-riddled Sporting Kansas City, 3-0, in MLS's only game on Sunday.

For the first time this season, the Five Stripes have won back-to-back games, and there was a huge sense of relief not present after the other two wins of the season.

They won and they played well, something that hasn't often happened this season.

"I think against Dallas we really played also really good," said Atlanta coach Frank de Boer, "but we didn’t get the reward. Now we get the reward. I’m very pleased. It was a very solid performance. We created our chances. We almost gave nothing away. We were confident on the ball. This is what you want to see, of course, from our team."

Josef Martinez, who broke the MLS single-season scoring record in 2018, doubled his 2019 production with two goals on Sunday night, while Ezequiel Barco had a goal and assist in his last game before he leaves to join Argentina for the Under-20 World Cup.

Barco could be unavailable for MLS play until the end of June just as he showing the form that made him the most expensive signing in MLS history when he was acquired from Independiente in a reported $15 million transfer in 2018.

"It’s a pity that he will leave because, okay, last year he struggled sometimes and now you really see what he’s capable of," said de Boer. "He’s getting strong, you see in one-against-ones, he’s protecting the ball well, making good decisions. It’s bad for us because you want one of your best players in form, you want to keep, of course. Others have to stand up in that moment, I have confidence in all the other ones. It’s a pity that he’s not here but we have another Pity, so he has to make the difference."

A week after his outburst in response to being substituted in the second half, Pity Martinez was back in the starting lineup and played better, though he still hasn't scored or contributed an assist in seven games.

"You cannot expect that suddenly he will play his best," said de Boer, who said he had no problem with Martinez's outburst. "It’s step-by-step, and he’s getting the rhythm of MLS and the confidence to get back and he showed already some highlights that this is the Pity that we want. He’s coming there so hopefully on Wednesday against Toronto it’s another step forward."

With Barco gone, Martinez and others will need to step up quickly. The Toronto FC match on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will begin a run of seven games over 25 days before Atlanta United's MLS schedule breaks for more than three weeks.

"When you play a lot of games like this back to back in a row," said keeper Brad Guzan, "it’s important to get off to a good start. But also for the confidence going into the other games, when you play well as we did tonight, you’re ready for the next one. Mentally, it becomes easier to play that amount of games in that amount of time. It’s a good start. It doesn’t mean we’re the best team in the league."

Photo: Atlanta United

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7 comments about "Finally, Atlanta United won big and looked good doing it".
  1. Bob Ashpole, May 6, 2019 at 9:08 a.m.

    I couldn't believe this was true so I checked:

    "The Toronto FC match on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will begin a run of seven games over 25 days before Atlanta United's MLS schedule breaks for more than three weeks."

    This is insanity for a league with roster limitations. Did the people making this schedule ever actually play the game? 

  2. Gary Levitt, May 6, 2019 at 9:43 a.m.

    Bob - you point is well taken and if you add in the issue of Barco leaving for national team duties, the schedule for ATL UTD becomes more problematic.  It is a shame that the MLS schedule compression for some teams exists - no matter the FIFA calendar.  
    www.justmytake.net

  3. frank schoon, May 6, 2019 at 11:59 a.m.

    I'm glad DeBoer is beginning to settle in, it's still a work in progress. I'm looking at Nagby, and you can see he's improving as player. I just wish he would practice shooting on the dribble, for he would be so dangerous if he had shot. He's playing in the right position to unleash a shot right up the middle. This would definitely expand Martinez's attacking options as far as positioning go for it would not only force another defender around Martinez to commit to Nagbe, but also Martinez by moving would open up a bigger hole for Nagby's shot at goal....
     Hey , Bob I'll be flying tomorrow for a whole week to go to your neck of the woods Phoenix ,Tucson where ever my horse will take me. 

  4. Wooden Ships replied, May 6, 2019 at 2:22 p.m.

    Be careful with the horse Frank, especially after the Kentucky Derby VAR. agree with you on Nagbe, if he ever developed a shot he’d be a more complete player. Striking drills, over and over. What about Atlanta ownership, no voice with scheduling? 

  5. frank schoon replied, May 6, 2019 at 4:03 p.m.

    Ships, LOL. That scheduling is something else...... I hope someone is getting to Nagbe and tell him what he could be capable of. 
    Atlanta with the deBoer still needs a lot of work. I keep thinking about the qualms you stated earlier about deBoer vis a vis Tata. It is a work in progress, I admit,I hope it will pay off with DeBoer, later on. I would like Atlanta to be quicker in the initial transisition coming out of the back for it seems all the teams want to drop back as quickly as possible and park the bus, since they saw how successful Dallas was.
    Meanwhile, what is not really paid attention to is what DeBoer is contributing to our soccer DNA, besides Nagby,  is that our boys are finally improving and experiencing bettter ball possession, an aspect that is one of our weakest aspect of the US game.  Other teams at different levels are seeing this and it will definitely influence and seep little by little into our playing culture.
     Realize the way Atlanta plays with  ball possession  is not a characteristic of other MLS teams. Other than watching European type of ball possession teams like Barcelona, Man City, etc,  the MLS teams have never experienced playing against these types of teams,here, but now we have Atlanta  for them to play against and learn....And this can only be a positive aspect to further grow our soccer DNA.

  6. Wooden Ships replied, May 7, 2019 at 11:19 p.m.

    I agree with you on the de Boer possession model. I am so fatigued at watching pro’s with average skills. The long ball, win it in the air and hope and pressure with maybe getting a shot, is much to often what we see. I see a lot of that in the EPL as well. Do you think Klopp fed Liverpool players a bowl of red meat before and at half? Their desperate beginning and it continued bordered on rabid. Girlie boy Henderson pushed Leo’s head down while he was seated royally pissed me off. Barca didn’t play well at all, now we get to see a lesser skilled team in the final. God help us if two EPL teams meet in Madrid. A European emberassment. 

  7. Alan Gay, May 6, 2019 at 7:14 p.m.

    The schedule compression is just another "Bonus" for qualifying for the CCL, made suicidal this year because of the U-20 world cup immediately preceeding the FIFA break.   Also at the U20 WC with the US is Andrew Carleton... an AU player that hasn't gotten many minutes, but certainly could have been used as an attacking mid-fielder in Barco's absence.

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