On Friday night, Atlanta United traveled across the country to face the reigning MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders and after a full 90, Atlanta came away with a hard-earned point. The 0-0 draw makes Atlanta United unbeaten in its last three matches and places the expansion side at the top of the Eastern Conference table.
There were no changes on the back line for Atlanta, however with Josef Martinez ruled out with a quad injury and Miguel Almirón and Carlos Carmona just returning from international duty, Tata Martino decided to go with more well-rested options in the starting XI. ATL UTD’s starters against the Sounders were as follows: Alec Kann (GK), Greg Garza (LB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Tyrone Mears (RB), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Julian Gressel (CAM), Chris McCann (CAM), Yamil Asad (LW), Jacob Peterson (RW), and Tito Villalba (ST).
As expected, the match was an open one from the start with both teams executing their fast and fluid styles of play, flying up and down the pitch. Full of many well-orchestrated attacks and some promising counters but a fair amount of last-ditch defending kept the game deadlocked through the first 45.
Following the halftime whistle, it was Seattle who made the first change of the match when Clint Dempsey replaced Álvaro Fernández. Seattle’s American hero nearly gave the home side the advantage after hitting the woodwork on a header soon after subbing in.
Atlanta echoed its attacking-minded move just minutes later as Paraguayan playmaker, Miguel Almirón, entered the match for Jacob Peterson. The number 10 brought some energy to the visitors, sparking a few dangerous counters in the last 30 minutes, but unfortunately failed to capitalize on any of them.
On Atlanta’s side, Carlos Carmona and Kenwyne Jones subbed on; and for Seattle, Henry Wingo and Will Bruin earned some minutes. But still, none of the second half substitutions proved to make a significant impact, as the game remained a gritty matchup and eventually ended in a scoreless draw.
“When the games are difficult and competitive, we learned tonight that we can fight and we can be in these games,” said head coach Tata Martino. “Something else we confirmed tonight because we already knew it from the first game against New York … against these top teams you have to fight for 93, 94 minutes. You have to be intense the whole game because against teams like Dallas, Seattle, New York, Portland, Houston, Toronto – you have to compete for 90-plus minutes.”
Atlanta may return home with some turf burn and a few bruises but nonetheless, they’re taking back a hard-earned point against a strong, reigning MLS Cup Champion side at a fortress of a home. ATL UTD will continue their four-game road stretch next week when they travel to Toronto, followed by trips to Montreal and Salt Lake City.
The next home match of Atlanta’s inaugural season will take place on April 30 as they host Eastern Conference opponents, D.C. United. Tickets are going fast for what could be the third straight sellout match in the ATL. You can secure your seat here.