Atlanta United’s “coming out party” was exactly that… And it was another step towards a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
There’s always a “coming-out party” for someone somewhere.
And, if everything is laid out the way you thought was the way of the future, then everything is supposed to go to plan.
For Atlanta United in their Mercedes Benz Stadium debut, it was definitely the way that Carlos Bocanegra, Darren Eales, and Tata Martino drew it up.
Down To The Smallest Detail.
How about this touch as the team came in to the stadium?
Everyone wears a suit. Classy.
The New Surface Came Up Big For The Home Side.
But, the team itself made a point to emphasize to the crowd of 45,000-ish that the surface was meant to be an advantage that would run the visitors into the ground on any given night.
If a pass isn’t crisp, the #5Stripes pounce and proceed quickly in the other direction. Was it fully a “Peachtree Press” kind of moment? Perhaps, but the defense created short transitional opportunities and quick scoring chances the other way.
FC Dallas defender Maynor Figueroa addressed the idea after the match was over:
“They tried to pressure us in our own area — with very talented players, — (they are) very fast. Once we started to feel comfortable, we were already down on the scoreboard.”
No one had Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez for the first goal in the building and it was one of those days where anyone watching understood for the first time the value of every piece of the roster. Two defenders get goals because they stayed in the play.
Here’s Tata after the fact.
“The stadium is so impressive that it’s tough not to talk about what the stadium represents but I have to talk about how the team played,” Martino said afterwards. “With everything that we have coming and the eight games in 23 days, I think the most important is the performance against an opponent that generally we were better than but in some situations, they put us through tough moments.”
All FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja could do, really, was tip his cap to the other side and the fans in their new home:
“First off, congratulations to Atlanta and that beautiful stadium. The score shows they were the best team tonight. They deserved the points for the performance that they put together. Tonight, we were short in energy and many other areas that we couldn’t match the game and our opponent. I thought the first half and the first 20 minutes they overwhelmed us. We were lucky not to concede more goals.
“After that, I think we had reactions and then created our own chances. Giving up that second goal took us out of the game. After that, it was just a team trying to create with desperation and another team settling in the field and being calm and confident. The rest of the game was like that.”
You never… NEVER… want to disappoint your ravenous fan base in their first game in a shiny, new stadium. To a man, Atlanta United made that point. It wasn’t necessarily weighing on player’s minds with the processional…
And Zac Brown driving home the golden spike.
Or HLN’s “Morning Express” anchor Robin Meade singing the National Anthem.
But, it was there… If the team did what they were supposed to do, the noise around them would be wind in their sails instead of the head wind keeping them from producing.
“We talked about how it was important to get a good result — a good positive performance — in the first game to start things off and we were able to do that so, hopefully, we can just build on it from there,” captain Michael Parkhurst added. “We are looking forward to playing games. We have had a crazy schedule since the end of June where we haven’t played a ton of games. It’s been crazy sporadic so we think that if we can get into a rhythm and build off performances, hopefully, we can rattle off a few wins in a row.”
Oh, About That Pitch.
On offense, it puts all the roadrunners that Atlanta United has on high alert for getting from point-A to point-B on their map as soon as possible (kudos to FC Dallas Jesse Gonzalez, by the way, for keeping FCD in the match and not having it be 6 or 7-0).
“The field is ginormous,” Greg Garza said. “It is a big field and hopefully, we can get used to it as quickly as possible. It’s a lot different than Bobby Dodd (Stadium). We’re not slide tackling into walls anymore but besides that, I think the field is wonderful and the atmosphere is great as well.”
“Generally speaking, I think we played really well as a whole performance,” Gonzalez-Pirez said afterwards as well. “There’s always different things we can improve on. For us today, maybe we can improve upon finishing from the first half but in the second half, we were more precise with our finishing. We have to just copy this game and this is the path that we have to follow.”
There’s No Time To Waste.
New England comes in to town for a mid-week match and can boost their limited playoff hopes- and damage Atlanta United’s with a solid effort. Or, it could put Revs head coach Jay Heaps on the Hot Seat- knowing the number of goals surrendered is very un-Revs like this season.
“It was important because we had to adjust quickly to our new stadium,” Martino added. “We’re in the final stage of the league and today’s game was a big challenge for us and I think we overcame it. We still have the support of the fans who came from Bobby Dodd (Stadium) and we were able to win what was — in my opinion — our best game of the season.”
Now, all Atlanta United has to do is follow up their best game of the season with another one.