Match Recap

Atlanta United extinguishes Chicago Fire FC with 3-0 victory 

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Coming off a difficult road match against Toronto FC, the 5-Stripes were back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to take on Chicago Fire FC. With the six international callups back, and the squad in familiar territory, Atlanta United continued their hot streak at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The 3-0 win not only means the club is, so far, undefeated at home for the 2024 season, but they are also 7-0 at home all-time against Chicago. This is the second clean sheet of the season for the 5-Stripes.

"Fantastic - I was saying that to the players," said Head coach Gonzalo Pineda during the post-game press conference. "I am very happy about the three goals, but the main thing to me is the clean sheet. I told the players I am very happy about that because it is a team reward. It is not just the defenders and the goalkeeper, it is the collective."

Brad Guzan made some clutch saves to start the match, one in the first 10 minutes, but much of the possession in the first half was dominated by Atlanta United.

After a turnover created by Giorgos Giakoumakis, it was quick play from Saba Lobjanidze that created the first promising look for the squad. During the chance, a collision led to Giakoumakis needing to go off the pitch. In the 13th minute, Thiago Almada got the second good shot for the 5-Stripes, shot wide of the far post. Giakoumakis, after being looked at by the trainers, came back to the match.

Atlanta maintained an aggressive offensive game as well as a strong defensive plan, outshooting Chicago by 10 on the day. Xande Silva and Giakoumakis had the best attempts as the time ticked on in the first half. After a great save from Guzan on the other end of the pitch, in the 45th minute, Lobjanidze set up Giakoumakis for his fifth goal of the season. This marked the 22nd regular season goal for Giakoumakis, making him the second all-time highest scorer in Atlanta United history.

Giakoumakis continued his impressive start to the 2024 season by becoming the first player since Josef Martínez to score five goals in the first five matches of the season.

"I know for him [Giakoumakis], the team comes first," said Pineda. "For GG, the most important thing is to win the game. It is normal for a number nine to score goals for a team. That is a his job. I am extremely happy because he is a very unselfish player. He is alway willing to chase, to press, to counter-press, and to serve some passes for others. With this individual recognization he got to day, I am very happy to have that."

To start the second half, Chicago came out with a forceful push. It became a chippy affair as a yellow card was dealt out to homegrown Caleb Wiley. In the 62nd minute, Atlanta made three substitutes - Jay Fortune, Edwin Mosquera, and Jamal Thiaré came on for Bartosz Slisz, Silva, and Giakoumakis respectively. The substitutions paid off quickly when in the 65th minute, Brooks Lennon set up Thiaré for the second goal of the match.

The goal, scored on his birthday and his first touch, marked the first for Thiaré as a member of the 5-Stripes.

"Jamal's birthday is today, so happy birthday to him," said Pineda. "He celebrates by scoring his first goal with the club in his first touch of the game. I think it is an amazing story."

Atlanta United kept sturdy defensively as Chicago began to push more to try and end the clean sheet for Atlanta. Chicago was given a red card in the 84th minute after Carlos Teran slashed Mosquera. Luis Abram and Dax McCarty subbed in to the match for Wiley and Muyumba for Atlanta's last substitutions.

Thiaré almost had his second goal of the match in the 89th minute but the goal was called offside.

With six minutes of stoppage time, Guzan stood tall during a free kick in the 91st minute to keep his bid for a second clean sheet in five matches of the 2024 season. The Chicago keeper, Chris Brady, had little chance as the 5-Stripes peppered on last attempts. Thiaré decided he was not done yet and in the dying minutes of the match he scored his second goal.

"I am usually a person that never celebrates their birthday," answered Thiaré during post-game media. "I am a person who constantly stays in their own bubble, and does their own thing. But it was awesome that it happened to be my birthday today, and on top of that, I scored. Going forward, I am going to stay calm and just keep working."

Atlanta United finished the day back in the win column with a total of nine points in the Eastern Conference table.

Match Stats
Atlanta United
Chicago Fire FC
Shots
21
11
Shots on target
7
3
Corner kicks
3
4
Fouls committed
8
5
xG
4.2
0.7
Possession 
52%
48%
Passing accuracy
85%
84%

Up Next - Atlanta United looks to get their first win on the road in New York City

The 5-Stripes will be back on the road next weekend as they travel north to take on New York City FC on Saturday, April 6. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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