Atlanta United went back on the road for their third preseason match. Days after the 1-1 draw against Memphis 901 FC, the 5-Stripes took on CF Montréal in Tampa, Fla. at Al Lang Stadium. The match consisted of 120 minutes of hard-fought and intense action as the 5-Stripes dressed two different groups for two 60-minute games. In the end, Atlanta United walked away with a 2-1 victory over Montréal.
The starting lineup for head coach Gonzalo Pineda’s club: Brad Guzan, Caleb Wiley, Derrick Williams, Noah Cobb, Brooks Lennon, Bartosz Slisz, Tristan Muyumba, Nick Firmino, Saba Lobanidze, Jamal Thiaré, Xande Silva.
There were multiple scoring chances for the club, who donned the 17s’ kit. Atlanta United exercised control and patience which showed in a pressure-heavy start to the match. Focusing on the back and pushing the pace forward, the group created several scoring chances. Left fullback Wiley, in his first action this preseason for Atlanta United, had one of the better chances for the team early on.
With Montréal setting their defensive line at midfield to combat Atlanta, both teams exchanged good looks as the first 30 minutes wound down. It was quickly after halftime of the first game when the 5-Stripes opened the scoring in the 34th minute. Saba took the ball to the outside for the shot before it was deflected into the net past Montréal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza.
New faces for second 60 minutes
For the next 60 minutes of play, Josh Cohen, Ronald Hernández, Luis Abram, Efraín Morales, Aiden McFadden, Dax McCarty, Jay Fortune, Tyler Wolff, Matías Gallardo, Luke Brennan and Ashton Gordon took the field.
Only four minutes into the new faces being on the pitch, Atlanta’s newly signed keeper Cohen made a stellar save against wingback Ariel Lassiter to keep Atlanta United in the lead. Shortly thereafter, Atlanta took a 2-0 lead with a long range shot from Wolff. With Montréal trying to clog the middle, it left the attacking area completely clear for Wolff to send a strong shot right up the middle of the pitch.
As the sun began to set on Al Lang Stadium, the second portion of the game grew in intensity. In media availability last week, the newly signed MLS veteran on the team, McCarty, expressed how much he enjoys seeing the group grow during the preseason. Wednesday night was an example of the players building team chemistry as the players fought to keep their lead.
More changes for the 5-Stripes came when keeper Quentin Westberg replaced Josh Cohen in net. As time ticked down on match, in the 100th minute, Montréal got on the board with a goal from midfielder Dominik Yankov – his first of the preseason.
The second group of the day was able to lock it down after the goal despite the push from Montréal. Strong defensive plays and a couple of timely stops carried the club to the end to get the win.
More preseason games from the Sunshine State
Atlanta United will be back at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 10 to play the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The 3:00 p.m. match will also be streamed live. Atlanta’s last preseason game will be held in Miami, as they face Sporting Kansas City in a closed scrimmage on Feb. 17.