Atlanta's clinical performance sees them move forward in Champions League
Atlanta United entered Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Tuesday looking on putting a conclusion to Motagua in the CONCACAF Champions League draw. The first leg was an average game played by the 5 Stripes and saw them collect a precious away goal from the Honduran team. Many questioned why a Champions League game would be in Kennesaw States Stadium, instead of Bobby Dodd or the MB. The stadium is a great place to watch a football match and gives the game more of the experience of a European stadium compared to the NFL venue in Atlanta.
Pity Martinez was the man of the match for Atlanta netting two goals. The first one coming by way of a smart pass from Josef Martinez in the 38th minute of the game, Atlanta had some chances leading up to the goal. These included a header with a little too much power from Josef Martinez, as well as a wide right ball by Pity. Motagua did not put up a stout defense throughout the game and the possession stats proved that to be the case as United held 61% of the possession. Motagua did not put a shot on goal the entire game. FDB’s Dutch-style offense also fashioned an impressively high pass completion ratio at 87% over 493 passes. This seems to be a sign of the team acting as a cohesive unit as they have in previous years.
It would not be an Atlanta United game without Josef Martinez putting the ball in the back of the net. The imposing Venezuelan striker got his goal in the 60th minute. He sped past the Montgua goalkeeper and then curled the bar just inside the right post. The angle was a tricky one but Martinez has never shied away from an intricate goal. Although there was a moment of fright in the 83rd minute when the Motagua keeper Rougier made a brash tackle at the top of the box, in the process steamrolling a full speed Josef Martinez. Josef finished the game and shortly after his collision, Pity put his second away making the score 3-0, and 4-1 on aggregate, sending The 5 Stripes passed the round of 16 for the second year in a row.
Overall the Atlanta performance was first-class, although at times it seemed as if the team was making the same mistake the first time they played the team, playing down to their opponent. The true tests will come over these next few weeks as we see the MLS season open up against the new Nashville club. Their fans seem pretty excited at the prospects and also pretty sure of their ability to play with Atlanta. Perhaps they have forgotten that Atlanta has been consistent every year they have stepped foot on the pitch during the MLS season. Although some spots still need to be filled it seems Atlanta is poised for another promising year in professional football.