Photo: Carmen Mandato
Photo: Carmen Mandato

Has Atlanta United’s season turned? 5 things to know

Five things to know about Atlanta United this week:

1. Atlanta United earned its first MLS win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday with a 1-0 victory against Colorado. Julian Gressel scored the winning goal. It was his first goal this season and 10th across all competitions with the Five Stripes.

2. The goal was set up by a strong run by Darlington Nagbe, who did exactly what manager Frank de Boer asked of him and Hector Villalba, who came on as a second-half sub: be aggressive in one-on-one situations. Colorado put 10 men behind the ball when Atlanta United was in possession. There are a few ways to those banks of players. One is to beat people one-on-one. Nagbe did that to get to the endline and put a cross to the near post that Gressel struck for the goal. De Boer has received a lot of criticism but that decision was spot-on. Colorado’s defense was so frustrating that Atlanta United had just two shots on goal through the first 65 minutes or so. Both shots were by Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. He’s a centerback. Colorado isn’t the first team to use a defensive-minded approach at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They were the first to do so to that extent this season. 

3. Another talking point after the game was Pity Martinez’s tantrum on the bench after he was subbed off in place of Villalba in the 71st minute. Martinez didn’t shake Villalba’s hand as one came off and the other on, which is a custom. He appeared to yell at Atlanta United’s coaches. He kicked out at a chair. He appeared to slap at another chair. While it wasn’t his best moment,  it is understandable and not the first time that a player was aggravated to either be subbed, with their performance, or with the tactics of an opponent. Martinez was mostly ineffective against Colorado. He wasn’t the only ineffective player. As noted above, two shots on goal through the first 65 minutes. 

4. While Martinez was showing his frustration, Colorado manager Anthony Hudson was having his own tantrum in the postgame interview. In what appears at a shot at Colorado’s ownership, he said the team doesn’t spend enough money and, as such, is outclassed every game. Colorado has one Designated Player: goalkeeper Tim Howard. 

5. Atlanta United (2-3-2) will play at Sporting KC (2-2-4) on Sunday. Sporting KC is having a rough spell. It was destroyed by Monterrey in the Champions League by a two-game aggregate 10-2. Atlanta United’s 3-1 aggregate loss to Rayados doesn’t look so bad now. KC fell behind New England 3-1 and 4-2 but rallied for a 4-4 tie on Saturday.

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