October 19, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta United forward Hector Villalba (15) heads the ball over New England Revolution midfielder Brandon Bye (15) in the second half during the first round of the MLS playoffs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Atlanta United won 1-0 over the New England Revolution. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Atlanta United 1, New England 0: Player ratings

Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution rates Atlanta United’s players after Saturday’s 1-0 win against New England in the first round of the MLS playoffs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, 8: Six saves, including one in the first half in which he laid out to his left to push the shot away. 

Centerback Franco Escobar, 8.5: The man comes up big in playoff games, scoring his third goal in postseason games. ... Held his own at centerback, and then as right fullback, after a formation change. ... Led the team with five tackles and completed 90 percent of his passes. ... Cristian Penilla, who was a problem in the previous game, finished with just one shot.

Centerback Michael Parkhurst, 8: I’ve said all season that Parkhurst could still play centerback, instead of right fullback where he was deployed earlier this season, and he came through with two tackles and 93-percent passing accuracy. ... Read and snuffed out most of what New England tried with through passes. ... Left the game in stoppage time with a dislocated shoulder.

Centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, 7:  It was a game much like most of his this season: strong tackling, good passing, one bizarre mental mistake when he allowed a ball to bounce over his head, and a yellow card. ... Finished with four tackles.

Right wingback Julian Gressel, 7.5: New England tried to limit his effectiveness but he still created two chances and combined with Escobar to limit Penilla. ... His decision to not move froze two New England’s defenders long enough for Escobar to run past them on the winning goal.

Left wingback Justin Meram, 6: After his hot start, it’s natural that it would at some point slow down. That seems to be what has happened. ... Had quite a few turnovers in the first half. ... Neither he nor Gressel completed a high percentage of passes (less than 80 percent). ... But he did do well on defense in trying to limit Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou.

Defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, 8: An outstanding performance from the veteran with four tackles, two of which contributed to Atlanta United attacks. ... Read the game very well. ... Easy to see why de Boer is keeping him in the lineup ahead of Eric Remedi right now.

Defensive midfielder Darlington Nagbe, 7.5: This is the Nagbe that we saw during last year’ s playoff run. ... Worked well with Barco in keeping the ball and breaking New England’s pressure.

Midfielder Emerson Hyndman, 7.5: Like Nagbe, what he does often doesn’t end up in a stat sheet but makes Atlanta United work on offense and defense. ... One chance created and three tackles. ... Very important two-way player.

Striker Ezequiel Barco, 8.5: His assist led to the winning goal. ... It was a play so similar to many others he made in the game because he shrugged off one tackle while holding the ball long enough to make New England’s defenders make a decision, and then he put the ball right where it needed to be. ... Won five fouls.

Striker Josef Martinez, 6: Missed one fine chance in the first half when he missed a shot from the back post on a corner kick. ... Was incorrectly given a yellow card for simulation when in fact goalkeeper Matt Turner clawed at and made contact with his his right calf. ... Finished with just 23 touches.


Hector Villalba (on for Meram), 7: His speed pushed New England back. ... His cross helped led to the first goal. ...

Flo Pogba (on for Hyndman), 7: He doesn’t look like a natural fullback but he frequently got forward to disrupt New England and still got back to play defense.

Mo Adams (on for Barco), NR.


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About the Author

Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson covers the Atlanta United and Major League Soccer.