Atlanta United tied 2-2 against New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday May 15. In a tough match-up Atlanta was able to take control and score early in the first half, solidifying the lead but New England was able to turn it around.
Coming off of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup elimination, Atlanta returned home determined to score and gain points. The first half showed just that. The first couple of minutes New England dominated control and possession of the ball but after Atlanta found their rhythm the team regained control of the match.
Thiago Almada continues to prove he’s a difference maker. In Argentine midfielder has been the driving force of the team, creating goal scoring opportunities for the 5-Stripes. In the first 5 minutes Almada ran from behind passed the ball to Ronaldo Cisneros who headed the ball, but the play was blocked by the New England defense. Almada is a cunning player and t didn’t take long before he found another opportunity to score. In minute 11 Andrew Gutman was fouled and Atlanta was awarded a free kick. Almada almost scored from the direct free kick, but it was blocked by the New England keeper, Matt Turner. Four minutes later Thiago Almada got his goal when he shot from outside the box sending Mercedes-Benz into a frenzy.
“I think we understand each other really well," Alamada said. "We have really talented players, and we need to take advantage of that. Guys like Luiz, Marcelino, Ronaldo, so we just have to keep working together, keep trying to find ways to improve and keep searching for those goals.”
Atlanta continued dominating the first half, keeping possession, and returning to that tiki-taka style of soccer Atlanta is known for. The 5-Stripes were most dangerous in corner kicks, being awarded five in the first half. The chemistry between Luiz Araújo, Almada and Marcelino Moreno proved to be a driving force.
Brooks Lennon and Andrew Gutman stood out for their incredible drive and attack. Lennon’s big plays off the right side continued to drive the attack and Gutman’s recoveries and duels won kept the Atlanta possession at 55 percent.
Though Atlanta dominated the first half, New England pressed well and continued to seek the equalizing goal. The Revolution did just that in the 30th minute. The Atlanta defense was able to control Carles Gil and Adam Buksa for most of the game but off a set piece, Gil found Buksa and scored the goal to tie up the match.
The second half started with Atlanta pressuring the New England defense. Atlanta continued to press and get close, but Matt Turner proved to be a key player for New England. In the 55 minute the Revolution found a space and midfielder Sebastian Lleget passed the ball to Buksa who was able to score. The play was under review for being offside, but the goal was later confirmed.
"We are going to face adversity," defender Alex DeJohn said. "We are going to get scored upon, it’s just our character and our reaction to those situations. It’s not a “ok let’s not get our hand down” moment, it should be a moment to get up and change momentum. I think that’s what happened in the second half. The gaffer had a little bit of a go at us at halftime and said we needed to attack, attack, attack. We get scored on early in the second half, but I don’t think anyone’s head sunk, we just said “ok let’s go, let’s go score now.” The reaction was completely different from the first half.”
The 2-1 score did not stop the 5-Stripes. Atlanta continued to push forward putting pressure on the visiting team. Luiz Araújo continued to show his power and presence on the pitch. Araújo was a key player all throughout the plays. Less than 10 minutes from the 2-1 lead Almada found the ball passed it to Araújo who scored the equalizer.
In the 85-minute Atlanta got close to taking the lead with two incredible plays from Araújo. The first play found Araújo shot at goal, but the goal was denied by Turner. The second shot played out similarly, but the ball went over the net. Atlanta fought hard for the win until the last minute pressing the Revolution and keeping control.
“I think the potential is the best in the league," Andrew Gutman said. "You look at some of these players that no other teams in the league have. We just got to utilize them more. We’ve got to just be a little sharper in the final moments."
Atlanta travels this weekend to face Nashville SC on Saturday May 21 at GEODIS Park. If you're traveling to support the 5-Stripes, check out our traveling supporters guide.