Match Recap

Giorgos Giakoumakis hat trick drives Atlanta United to 4-1 victory in home opener 


Atlanta United played its home opener of the 2024 season on Saturday, hosting Eastern Conference side New England Revolution. Giorgos Giakoumakis scored a hat trick and Thiago Almada converted a penalty kick to secure three points in a 4-1 victory over the Revs.

The result Saturday marked the club's first win of the season, which took place in front 67,727 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was the third-largest attendance at a soccer match on Saturday, March 9 in the world behind only Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) and Manchester United (English Premier League).

"We talked about sending a statement, not only amongst us as a group but to the league that we want to make Mercedes-Benz Stadium a really difficult place to come and play this year," Atlanta United captain Brad Guzan said. "With the chances we created in the first half, the chances we created in the second half, it could've been more than four tonight. And that's a good thing for us."

After the first half went back and forth with the two Eastern Conference clubs trading chances, Saba Lobjanidze appeared to score the opening goal in the 45th minute. The winger poked in a rebound after Giakoumakis was tripped up by New England Revolution goalkeeper Henrich Ravas near the goal line. Instead, the official called the foul on Ravas inside the box, setting up a penalty kick for Atlanta United.

Almada converted the kick, driving a shot from the spot to the left. The World Cup winner put the home team ahead 1-0 going into the halftime break and gave his club their first goal of the 2024 season, sending Mercedes-Benz Stadium into an uproar.

"I'm very happy with the way the team played tonight," Almada said. "I think we had to after the loss in the first game against Columbus, so we're pleased with how it went."

Atlanta United doubled their lead on the other side of the halftime break. A handball on New England was called inside the box, which earned Atlanta United another penalty kick. This time, Giakoumakis stepped up to the spot and converted in the 55th minute. After not a single one of his 17 goals last season came from a penalty kick, last season's leading scorer for Atlanta United made a PK for his first goal of the season.

With both goals from Almada and Giakoumakis, it was just the second time in club history that two different players scored a PK in the same match.

"If you score four, five goals, you send a message," Giakoumakis said. "It's good to do that because so far we haven't shown anything offensively, we're trying to figure out how we're going to connect to each other again... so hopefully, that's the start."

But the PK wasn't the last goal of the night for Giakoumakis. The striker scored the team's third goal in the 60th minute -- and he did it in true Giakoumakis fashion like he did so many times during his MLS Newcomer of the Year campaign in 2023. After nearly connecting with fullback Brooks Lennon's long crosses throughout the night, the striker got on the end of one and drove a firm header to secure his brace and make the score 3-0 in favor of Atlanta United.

And the brace didn't last long, as the striker would go on to add another for his hat trick. After Atlanta United played out of the back, then strung some passes around in their attacking third, Giakoumakis linked up with the other goal scorer, Almada. The striker brought down Almada's deflected shot with his chest on the edge of the box and used his left foot to volley a shot into the opposite side netting in what was an incredible finish to cap off his hat trick, the 10th all-time in club history and the first in MLS for Giakoumakis, in the 74th minute.

"Of course I'm very happy about him [Giakoumakis] scoring three goals, but the team comes first," head coach Gonzalo Pineda said during his postmatch press conference. "Very happy. It's a good reward for everyone. [It was] a good night."

The Atlanta United backline played well and worked hard to keep the Revs off the board for nearly 90 minutes. In the 30th minute, the 5-Stripes gave away the ball in their attacking half that led to a quick New England counter. Atlanta center back Derrick Williams, making his home debut wearing the 5-Stripes, tracked back and kept pace with his attacker. He made the block and his counterpart, Stian Gregersen, cleaned it up to return possession to Atlanta United. Solid defense and on-ball play from Atlanta United's backline ignited the possession that ultimately led to a beautiful team goal, the third goal for Giakoumakis.

After carrying a shutout deep into the match, Atlanta United conceded a late goal to Carles Gil in the 83rd minute.

"I have to of course give credit to Carles Gil, but we need clean sheets," Pineda said. "I really love clean sheets. It could've been a great reward for a backline and midfielders that did a great job... I think it was a complete game, but we should've have rounded with a clean sheet."

Every player for Atlanta United was available for selection Saturday, including Edwin Mosquera and Jamal Thiaré who missed the season opener in Columbus. The match also signified the home debuts for several members of the 5-Stripes added to the club this offseason. Along with Gregersen and Williams, Bartosz Slisz saw his first action as a member of the club in front of the loud and rowdy 17s.

Shots on target
Corner kicks
Fouls Committed
Passing accuracy

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It's back-to-back home matches for Atlanta United. The 5-Stripes return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium next weekend for a Sunday match when they host Eastern Conference rival Orlando City SC on March 17.

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