On Tuesday night, Atlanta United secured a 1-1 draw on the road against Motagua in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League. Here are three things we learned.
Atlanta United traveled to Honduras on Tuesday night for their first match of this year’s CONCACAF Champions League and earned an important 1-1 draw. Motagua opened the scoring in the 34th minute thanks to an unmarked Roberto Moreira volley at the far post. Josef Martinez linked up beautifully with Pity Martinez just a minute later to pull level. Both sides created a host of chances in the final 55 minutes but neither could capitalize on those chances and the match finished 1-1.
The Five Stripes should feel like winners after Tuesday night’s result, especially compared to their first CCL match in 2019, which was a 3-1 road loss to Costa Rican side CS Herediano. Now, Atlanta will return to Kennesaw level with Motagua but with the advantage of an away goal (which is the first tiebreaker used in this tournament).
Here are three things learned from Tuesday night’s opening match draw.
3. Advantage during return leg
Atlanta United will be heavily favored to advance next Tuesday following this opening draw. A 1-1 result is by no means a perfect outcome, but given the circumstances surrounding the return leg, the Five Stripes are in prime position to advance next week.
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The return leg will be played in Kennesaw at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, and although it isn’t Mercedes Benz Stadium, the team should be excited nonetheless. For starters, Atlanta United have done historically well at Fifth Third Bank. Over the last three seasons, in both the U.S. Open Cup and CCL, Atlanta are 5-0-0 in Kennesaw. Just last season, the team overturned a 3-1 deficit against Herediano in CCL with a 4-0 win in the return leg to advance to the next round comfortably.
Not only is playing in Kennesaw an advantage for Atlanta; they also have the benefit of an away goal. Keep a clean sheet and you are into the quarter-finals. That must be the aim for Frank de Boer and his players. A win would have been nice, yes, but Atlanta United are set up for success when they play the return leg next week.