Atlanta United is back in another final. Having beaten Orlando City without the league’s leading scorer, there are high expectations for the final. The game was well played, but certainly was not United’s best performance. However the fluidity seems to be there with passing and possession. Although last night I saw some of the worst giveaways I have seen all season by United, all that matters at the end of the day is winning.
The game seemed to be dominated by Atlanta; however the statistics seem to not give that same impression. Possession was only split 51% to 49% in favor of Atlanta, and United only had 11 more passes during the game. The dominance was shown in shots on target. Grinwis made some great saves that kept his team in the game. Dwyer put the ball passed Guzan in the 4th minute but the goal was quickly called back for offside. Then again in the 18th minute Orlando sent a cross into the box that should be put away 9/10 times, but the Orlando striker mishit the ball over the crossbar.
Atlanta’s first goal came in the 37th minute Remedi took a shot from outside the box only to have it parried to the right. The ball fell to the feet of the master of crossing the MLS, the seemingly magical Julian Gressel, who can whip balls into the box more accurately than anyone that comes to mind in the EPL. The cross found Remedi running to follow his shot and deftly finished near post with the inside fo the foot.
Orlando had even more chances. Moutinho blasted a shot from outside the box that, even from watching at home looked like a goal. However the ball slid off the outside of the net. Orlando’s best chance came in the 48th minute, when a cross came in point blank in front of Guzan with a Orlando player waiting to put the ball away. Thankfully we have one of the best Center backs in the MLS with Miles Robinson.
The Massachusetts native has been one of the best defenders in MLS this season. He brings back memories of players like Ashley King for Leicester City, or even a smaller version of Vincent Kompany. His motor just never stops; he is one of the most tenacious players I have ever seen set foot on a football pitch. Robinson got there right in time and smashed the ball into the upper decks, almost certainly keeping the shutout intact.
Then in the 78th minute Emerson Hyndman scored after open cross from Escobar came to his feet which he dispatched passed the Orlando keeper making the score 2-0. Three yellow cards were given in the last 5 minutes of the game to Pogba, Escobar, and Guzan. The Atlanta keeper’s was clearly for time wasting, but Pogba’s seemed especially unnecessary given the time in the game.
It was a great win by United, and these last two wins have been confidence boosters heading into the playoffs and the final of the US Open Cup. With Martinez back and the team playing mostly as one unit, the chances of United repeating a MLS Cup certainly does not seem implausible. The team seems to be hitting its stride, and as long as injuries do not start to pike up, the final portion of the season looks to be bright.