Atlanta United’s ambitions for the CONCACAF Champions League might be over in the quarterfinals, a 3-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Union a terrible blow to their hopes for continental glory.
It was a difficult home result for Atlanta United in their first leg of a round of eight meeting with a fellow MLS side. On paper, in terms of pure talent, Atlanta United is one of the top two or three teams in any discussion concerning firepower and star power within MLS.
So to see Atlanta lose at home in the first leg, by three goals, and getting shut out in the process was a huge surprise around the league.
“The analysis of the whole game was very correct from our part. We controlled the game,” Atlanta United head coach Gabriel Heinze said after the first leg loss.
“In the second half, after the goal from a set piece, the team kept trying in the same way, pressuring a little bit in the finishing, and the goals come from our errors. Bur aside from all that, the team was very good.”
Atlanta United held a decided advantage in possession (65.4 percent) and shots (16:8) as well as shots on goal (8:5). But several tremendous saves from Union goalkeeper Andre Blake kept is scoreless at halftime.
A brace by Kacper Przybylko, who scored in the 57th minute and then in the 83rd minute, put the match on the Union’s terms. When Anthony Fontana tallied in the 86th minute (with Przybylko on the assist), the match as well as in all likelihood the series went against Atlanta United.
A comeback is a longshot for Atlanta United, especially after conceding three away goals for the Union.
“Of course it’s possible, this is football. They scored three goals on us today, so we could score three goals in the return leg. The team is doing well,” Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa said after the loss.
“Obviously, we are frustrated with the result because in my opinion we didn’t deserve it. But this is football, sometimes the better team doesn’t win. Today, that’s what happened.”
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