Photo: Jacob Gonzalez/Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United
Photo: Jacob Gonzalez/Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United

Atlanta United’s Gressel carves up New England

Given space and time, Atlanta United wingback Julian Gressel can cut open a defense. In a change from the previous few games, New England didn’t press him and he made the Revs pay in his team’s 3-1 win on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Gressel assisted on Atlanta United’s first two goals and then scored the final goal in a spot near the right corner of the the penalty box that one day should have a plaque in the turf because that seems to be where he scores most of his goals.

They were Gressel’s 11th and 12th assists to move him into the team lead his sixth goal to move him into second-place on the team.

“It feels good,” he said. “What’s important is that we feel good as a team. After that second half, I think we can go with our heads held high into the playoffs, with a lot of confidence. (We will) see that team again (and) send them home with their heads down with a loss here.”

The first assist was a relatively simple cross across the top of the penalty box. It appeared to be going to Josef Martinez until Darlington Nagbe sprinted in as the late runner and hit a right-footed shot into the lower left corner.

The second assist was a world-class pass of some 50 yards, perfectly placed behind New England’s back line but in front of goalkeeper Matt Turner. Josef Martinez ran onto the pass and beat Turner.

“Of course, he has that connection with Josef (Martinez),” Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer said. “You saw the chance that Josef got, and in the second half, he got one or two more. They have that feeling, so yeah, he is very important for us. He can score goals also. Against Montreal, he scored an important goal, and now, he has a goal and two assists. I think the numbers do not lie, so he is very important for us.”

The goal was a right-footed shot that bounced off the opposite post and rolled back across and in.

“It felt amazing,” Gressel said. “This is bouncing nicely, I just have to have a kick here. At first, I thought it was going to bounce out. It took forever to go form one post to another side netting. It was a good strike.”

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