Atlanta United’s six-game unbeaten streak came to a frustrating end Wednesday, with an own goal and missed chances enough to drop another game to D.C. United.
The highlight of the pre-match news was the return of striker Josef Martinez and left back Greg Garza, who had been forced out of the last match with injury. Head coach Tata Martino otherwise stuck with his recent go-to lineup in league play: Brad Guzan (GK), Greg Garza (LB) Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Anton Walkes (RB), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Carlos Carmona (CM), Yamil Asad (LW), Miguel Almirón (CAM), Tito Villalba (RW), Josef Martinez (ST).
Atlanta United started on the front foot, almost taking the lead in the first five minutes. Tito Villalba played a perfect diagonal ball to Yamil Asad behind the defense, who cut it back to Almirón in the middle. Almirón nearly made the D.C. defense pay, but it skidded just wide of the post.
Tito Villalba also challenged Bill Hamid in the D.C. United goal with a nice reflex shot from outside the box, but Atlanta otherwise struggled to break through an organized D.C. defense. Brad Guzan, meanwhile, had a solid half in the Atlanta United goal dealing with the D.C. United attack, including this point-blank save to keep the score level just before halftime.
The clean sheet lasted just a few minutes into the second half, however. A great save from Brad Guzan stayed spinning in play just inside the byline, and D.C. United got to the rebound first to send a ball back across the face of goal. Defender Michael Parkhurst reacted quickly to get in front of the ball, but could only put it into the back of Atlanta’s net to fall to 1-0.
Head coach Tata Martino threw everything he had onto the field to try to break the deadlock, bringing Julian Gressel, Brandon Vazquez and Chris McCann on for fresh legs moving forward. Atlanta conjured a few close chances but couldn’t quite get the ball past Bill Hamid in the D.C. United net, ending the game with a 1-0 loss.
The loss puts Atlanta United in 7th place, in a playoff spot, with games in hand over much of their opposition. They’ll have a chance to get back on the right track in just a few days as the team continues their week-long road trip against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. After that, Atlanta will get a chance to come back home for their first-ever match in Mercedes-Benz Stadium and their tenth straight sell-out. Make sure your spot is saved for the following match, against the New England Revolution on September 13th, by getting your tickets here.