Atlanta United’s third competitive match in less than a week ended on a tough note Wednesday night, dropping the first leg of their Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal 0-3 to C.F. Monterrey on the road.
Frank de Boer elected to stick with the same personnel he’d been fielding for the majority of preseason and their Champions League opening round. However, with Julian Gressel unfit to make the roster, Mikey Ambrose slotted in on the right flank. The full starting XI vs C.F. Monterrey: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Miles Robinson (CB), Brek Shea (LWB), Eric Remedi (CM), Darlington Nagbe (CM), Mikey Ambrose (RWB), Ezequiel Barco (FWD), Pity Martinez (FWD), Josef Martinez (FWD).
From the first whistle, it was Monterrey who put their foot on the gas forcing Atlanta United to absorb pressure early on, and seventeen minutes in, the home side got their reward. After Monterrey’s Dorlan Pabón was taken down by Leandro González Pirez in the penalty area, the referee pointed to the spot. Sánchez made no mistake, slotting it home to give the 1-0 lead to Rayados.
Physicality and scrappiness defined the match in Guadalupe and for a while, it looked like Atlanta may escape Estadio BBVA Bancomer with just a one goal deficit, but Pabón fizzled that outcome in the 80th minute. After receiving a pass at the top of the area, a bit of skill put him past the defender, creating enough space for him to blast a left-footed strike and bulge the net. Four minutes later, it would get worse for the visitors. Pabón again causing trouble for the Atlanta defense, served a ball in from the right side to Jesus Gallardo who settled the ball with his chest at the six and smashed in the dagger to make it 3-0 to Monterrey.
Overall it was a disappointing night for Atlanta United, but the same was said after their first leg performance in Costa Rica in the opening round. It’s a tale of two legs and it’s the reason they were able to redeem themselves in Atlanta last week and advance to the quarterfinals. They’ll be looking for that same vengeance to overcome a 3-0 deficit next Wednesday, March 13th as they host Monterrey. And this time, instead of KSU, they will be back in Mercedes-Benz Stadium where they ended 2018 unbeaten in 13 matches through MLS Cup. Make sure you secure your seat as Atlanta United fight for a spot in the Champions League semifinal by purchasing your tickets here.