Atlanta United returned to MLS play on Sunday for the first time since mid-July in its match against Seattle Sounders. A strong performance on the road at Lumen Field and a brace from Giorgos Giakoumakis resulted in a 2-0 win for Atlanta. The win was Atlanta's third on the road this season.
“We were really happy with how the game played out," defender Brooks Lennon said. "A lot of things that we’ve worked on in the last two weeks happened in the game and that’s great to see. The way we pressed them from the beginning, the way we controlled the tempo of the game on the ball. The way in the first half we were moving them side to side, opening up gaps, runs in behind, chances in front of goal. So really positive play from us. Now we just have to continue to build off of this performance."
Atlanta got the early lead in the 11th minute from its 15th set piece goal of the season. Lennon made a long run down the right side and earned a corner. He took the kick, which found the head of Giakoumakis right in front of the penalty spot. The striker redirected the ball into the net past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei for his 11th goal of the season.
The 5-Stripes immediately went searching for another goal. Giakoumakis and winger Edwin Mosquera had good looks from the right side of the box a few minutes after the first goal, but both shots were off target. Xande Silva nearly snuck one in near post, but it was an easy save for Frei.
The second goal of the night came in the 65th minute starting with midfielder Tristan Muyumba winning the ball at midfield. Muyumba switched to the left side, where Atlanta connected a few passes before ending at Thiago Almada. The Argentine midfielder sent the ball inside the box to Giakoumakis, who headed the ball into goal again, this time into the ground before bouncing past Frei.
"[Giakoumakis is] one of those guys that doesn’t just take training off and plays hard in the game." Lennon said. "He plays just as hard in training than he does in the game, and he’s such a good character off the field, so I’m happy to see him scoring great goals. Two goals tonight, to continue to add to his tally, and I know he has big goals for himself. All of GG’s success makes me happy.”
Seattle had multiple chances to reduce their two-goal deficit, but they couldn't get one into the net. The Sounders crashed into the box on the counterattack in the 69th minute, but Albert Rusnák's right-footed shot rolled wide of goal. Minutes later, Fredy Montero ran onto a loose ball in the box, but his shot went just outside the near post.
Atlanta dominated both offensively and defensively against Seattle. The 5-Stripes maintained 62% possession on 561 completed passes. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan finished the night with just two saves, but he intercepted multiple crosses to earn the clean sheet, along with the defense's 23 clearances.
Two of Atlanta’s newest signings, Silva and Muyumba, made their first MLS starts on Sunday, along with Mosquera, who made his first start with Atlanta this season. Defender Miles Robinson also returned to league play for the first time since June 10.
“I thought they looked really good," Pineda said about Muyumba and Silva. "Those two are impactful players. They impacted right away without much adaption. It was good to have three weeks to work with them and work on our principles. Tristan of course with the security on the ball and physicality on the field. Very smart player on and off the ball. Xande is very explosive, he can give us a lot of movements on that left side. I’m sure his future with Atlanta United is bright."
Up next—Atlanta faces Southeastern rival Nashville SC at home
The 5-Stripes will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, August 26 when they host Eastern Conference opponent Nashville SC. The two clubs met earlier this season at GEODIS Park, where the home side secured a 3-1 win.