Atlanta United Vs Columbus Crew: 5 things we learned – Brilliance in big win

ATLANTA, GA JULY 21: Atlanta's Franco Escobar (2) moves the ball up the field during the match between Atlanta United and DC United on July 21, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC beat DC United by a score of 3 1. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA JULY 21: Atlanta's Franco Escobar (2) moves the ball up the field during the match between Atlanta United and DC United on July 21, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC beat DC United by a score of 3 1. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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ATLANTA, GA AUGUST 19: Atlanta’s Julian Gressel (24) lines up a shot during the match between Atlanta United and Columbus Crew on August 19th, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC defeated Columbus Crew SC by a score of 3 – 1. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA AUGUST 19: Atlanta’s Julian Gressel (24) lines up a shot during the match between Atlanta United and Columbus Crew on August 19th, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC defeated Columbus Crew SC by a score of 3 – 1. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

2. Gressel continues to contribute

Julian Gressel is one of Atlanta United’s most important players. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The young German is a key “depth” player for the Five Stripes. I use the term depth player loosely, because in a first choice Starting XI, Gressel would be on the bench. However, in 25 games, Gressel has 24 starts. He came up big again on Sunday.

On Martinez’s record tying goal, Gressel made a fantastic interception and subsequently found Martinez in the open field. How Gressel plays the ball is fantastic. He sees the pass through the midfield, turns on a burst of speed, steals the ball, and finds Martinez. But notice what Gressel does after he passes to Martinez. He switches the direction of his run, crossing up two of the three Columbus defenders. Two of the defenders follow Gressel, allowing space to open up for Martinez to score the goal.

This play was not a mistake and did not happen by chance. Gressel knew exactly what he was doing throughout the entire course of the play, and the fact that the Columbus defenders respect Gressel enough to follow him despite the threat of Martinez shows just how good Gressel is. It was Gressel’s ninth assist of the season, tying his nine assists from his rookie season last year.