Atlanta United Above The Red Line With Win Over Colorado

There is a question lingering in the minds of Atlanta United fan’s minds after the mid-week loss to DC United… an inexcusable loss on a lot of fronts that stuck in a collective craw going forward…

It wasn’t how to rebound or anything like that. It had more to do with going forward and how to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again in a situation that’s just as vital if Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s side is to make the post-season in Major League Soccer and make more noise in the league’s second season.

Was it as simple as one man’s return to the line-up? 

There’s something to be said about the return of Josef Martinez to the Starting XI for their home match against the Colorado Rapids. But there was more to it…

Let’s see how we got to the discussion we’re about to have…

If the headers are any indication with Martinez in the box, the short corners are now more an alternative than a necessity, which is a good thing.

And had the bicycle kick gone in, Bobby Dodd Stadium would have fallen in on itself.

“That is why he is the U.S. (United States) National Team Goalkeeper,” Martinez said. “He made some big saves tonight. Luckily, I was able to convert one of my chances and that’s why the three points stayed at home tonight.”

But, it’s not just Martinez

Let’s show the goal again in iso, but look at the build-up…

https://twitter.com/EcuSport/status/878998954041585664

Substitute Brandon Vazquez took a perfectly weighted ball in the corner and found Martinez in the box… Vazquez, ever since he was inserted on the right-hand side in the Open Cup match against Charleston Battery, seems to have found a home over there.

Oh, by the way, it’s Vazquez’s first-ever MLS assist…
“It was a play where Jeff (Larentowicz) played me down the line and I cut back the defender a bit,” Vazquez said. “I played the ball back to the six-yard box to where Josef (Martinez) where he took the touch and finished it off.”

And, remember, we’re talking about someone who is 19

IN OCTOBER…

Martino has given Atlanta United another weapon on the wing, adding to the Julian Gressel opportunities fans have seen this season. And with all these possible matches coming up, having a Swiss Army Knife of a roster is not a bad thing…

Also, credit has to go to Anton Walkes, who was injured and removed in the same Battery match and was named to the Starting XI for Tyrone Mears. Walkes was also playing as a right back, not as his standard center half or defensive midfielder. Martino got in Walkes’ ear before the match:

“He just said to make sure I stay tidy and make sure there’s no mess in the back,” Walkes said. “He said he didn’t mind a bit of risk going forward because we’ve got the players to win the ball first and do their jobs moving along.”

Not really reading any tea leaves right now other than the schedule, but Walkes filled in admirably coming in somewhat cold when it came to chemistry and minutes in 2017.

“One of the reasons Anton [Walkes] started tonight was because we’re trying to be able to give some rest to other players,” Martino admitted after the match. “But in (the U.S.) Open Cup, we’re aware we can only start five foreign players so that’s going to factor into our decisions as we head to Miami and Columbus.”
But the match wasn’t without some collective hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing, and fingernail-biting…
There was the moment to close out the clean sheet…

And don’t think for a second that fans of the #5Stripes weren’t looking at it going: “NOT ANOTHER SET PIECE!!!”

Give Kann full credit for concentration to lock it down in a dodgy situation…

“I knew they were going to send everyone into the box except for (Colorado GK Tim) Howard so it was going to be crowded,” Kann said about the play. “Everyone was going to challenge for the ball and I was just trying to get myself between the ball and the goal. Thankfully, he headed it towards me, I got my body behind it, and got the rebound. It hit my forearms and then I got on top of it.”

In front of another 45,000 fans in Atlanta, Colorado goes home 0-7 on the road for 2017…

And Atlanta United has actually outscored Colorado this season already, 16-15…

By the way… that’s the number of goals at home versus TOTAL goals scored…

“The clean sheet was a big step for us,” Captain Michael Parkhurst said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve had one. We feel like some games we’ve been good enough to get a clean sheet and it hasn’t happened for whatever reason and other games we have rightfully given goals and made some mistakes.
“To come out here in front of our home fans in a tough game where Colorado made it very difficult defensively, we knew that we had to be tight in the back. We knew it was probably going to be a one goal game. We said that at halftime. We gave up one big chance in the first half that Alec (Kann) had a huge save on and then, the scrum at the end. Other than that, I thought it was pretty clean. It’s a huge boost of confidence especially at this point in the season.”
And the team will need it as the matches come quickly before the Gold Cup Break…

So, you’re at the half-way point… What do you think? 

First, let’s ask that of someone who is flourishing under “Tata” Martino- Jeff Larentowicz:

“The potential is as high as we want it to be. I think the thing we’ve lacked has been consistency and the mentality to perform at our best every game. Obviously, for the remainder of the year, we’re going to call on everybody, so it’s going to have to be every single guy on the roster — as you’ve seen tonight with more guys getting on the field and helping out.
“But, the potential is there and I think that making a run and obviously, taking advantage of September, I think we’re in a good position now and hopefully that can be a catapult for the end of the year.”
And, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Atlanta United fans, for the Saturday match in Columbus AND the mid-week Open Cup match against the NASL’s Miami FC, what do you think about where the team sits?
Check in below in the Comments Section and let us know what you think…