Atlanta United can now turn its attention to trying to make up points lost in its first two games in MLS when it hosts Philadelphia on Sunday. Atlanta United is 0-1-1 in the league this season.
De Boer again on Wednesday went with the core group of starters, most of whom started each of the previous five games. The only change was Jeff Larentowicz at centerback in place of the suspended Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, and Mike Ambrose, who has started two games at right wingback, moved to his natural left side at wingback in place of Brek Shea.
De Boer said on Tuesday that there would be tweaks made to the tactics to try to create more goal-scoring opportunities. Atlanta United had scored more than one goal in just one of its previous five games and been shut out twice.
The aggressiveness was there with Ezequiel Barco, Pity Martinez, Josef Martinez and the wingbacks taking turns making runs into spaces behind Monterrey’s defense.
Atlanta United came close to taking a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute when Barco threaded a pass through six defenders for Josef Martinez to run onto. As he reached the ball in the penalty box and swiped at it with his right foot, Monterrey goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero came out, dove to his right, reached out his right hand, and knocked away the weak shot.
De Boer changed the tactics again to create higher pressure on Monterrey’s defense, which resulted in more long balls hit by Monterrey. De Boer said his team handled those well.
Other than two free kicks in dangerous places, Atlanta United didn’t come close to scoring again until Julian Gressel put a pass across the face of Monterrey’s goal near the 57th minute. No one was there to tap it in.
Despite the emphasis on creating chances, Atlanta United still put just two shots on goal through 72 minutes, which was more of a sign of Monterrey’s 5-4-1 formation and talent (several of its players were called into the Mexican national team by former Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino).
The Rayados hit the crossbar twice in a span of seconds near the 73rd minute but couldn’t score.
Atlanta United attacked but Darlington Nagbe’s shot, which appeared destined for the lower left corner, was tipped out in the 75th minute.
After a change in formation to a 4-3-3, Atlanta United finally broke through in the 77th minute when Josef Martinez and Nagbe exchanged passes. The sequence ended with Martinez slamming a shot into the upper right corner from just a few yards out.
Atlanta United appeared to score in the 83rd minute when Nagbe put a shot into the corner, but it was waived off because of a foul committed by Josef Martinez before the shot.
The 40,048 was the smallest announced attendance for an Atlanta United game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The previous low was 41,012 for a U.S. Open Cup game against Chicago on June 20, 2018. While small for Atlanta United, it did set a record for the largest crowd ever to watch a U.S. Open Cup game.
“We are disappointed not to advance,” Parkhurst said. “We had high hopes going into this tournament. The performance down in Monterrey hurt us. You lose 3-0 away and it’s such a tall talk to try to overdo that against one of the best teams on the continent so now that it’s over the full focus is on MLS, righting that ship and making sure we get good performances.”
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