Atlanta United defeated LD Alajuelense 1-0 Tuesday night at Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto in Leg One of its Round of 16 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL) matchup. Despite playing the entire second half with 10 men, Ezequiel Barco scored the club’s first goal of the year to give Atlanta a crucial road win heading into the second leg. The result marked head coach Gabriel Heinze’s first win with the club and it also ended Alajuelense’s 25-match unbeaten streak dating back to November 2020.
Atlanta was reduced to 10 players after goalkeeper Brad Guzan was shown a red card in the 43rd minute for taking down Marcel Hernández in a one-on-one situation just outside of the 18-yard-box. However, Atlanta started the second half energized and forced a penalty within the first five minutes. In the 48th minute, Barco played George Bello down the left side into the box where the defender one-timed a low cross, which was ruled to have hit the outstretched arm of José Salvatierra. Barco took the penalty kick and slotted it to the bottom right corner, just under the arm of Alajuelense goalkeeper Leonel Moreira in the 50th minute.
Eighteen-year-old Rocco Ríos Novo, a goalkeeper for Atlanta United 2 who signed a Short-Term Agreement Monday, replaced Guzan to make his First Team debut. The dual-national Argentine made six saves in the second half to preserve the clean sheet, which also set the club’s single-match record in SCCL play. In addition to Ríos Novo, several players made their club debuts including Santiago Sosa, Franco Ibarra and Lisandro Lopez who all started.
After grabbing the breakthrough goal, Atlanta weathered an onslaught of pressure from Alajuelense’s attack, which took 13 shots and put six on frame in the second half. Atlanta defended well despite facing 21 crosses and seven corners in the final 45 minutes.
Amidst the action, striker Josef Martínez made his long-awaited return to the field since his season-ending injury in February 2020 when he entered as a substitute, replacing Lopez in the 67th minute.
Atlanta and Alajuelense face each other for Leg Two next Tuesday, April 13 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia (6:00 p.m. EST, FS1, TUDN, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
- Post-match interviews with Gabriel Heinze and Rocco Ríos Novo
- Match Photos
- Post-Match Stats
- Post-match quote sheet
Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 | Leg One
Atlanta United 1, LD Alajuelense 0
Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto
Alajuela, Costa Rica
Shots: 17-8 Alajuelense
Shots on Target: 7-4 Alajuelense
Corner kicks: 7-2 Alajuelense
Fouls committed: 19-18 Atlanta
Offside: 5-2 Alajuelense
Possession: 51-49 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 79-78 Atlanta
ATL – Ezequiel Barco (penalty) 50’
ATL – Brad Guzan (Red) 43’
ATL – Anton Walkes (yellow) 57’
ATL – Rocco Ríos Novo (yellow) 69’
LDA – Johan Venegas (yellow) 76’
ATL – Franco Ibarra (yellow) 82’
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan ©; Brooks Lennon, George Bello, Anton Walkes, Miles Robinson; Franco Ibarra (George Campbell – 88’), Santiago Sosa; Emerson Hyndman, Jake Mulraney (Rocco Ríos Novo – 45+2’), Ezequiel Barco; Lisandro López (Josef Martínez – 67’).
Substitutes not used: Machop Chol, Jack Gurr, Tyler Wolff, Jürgen Damm
LD ALAJUELENSE STARTING LINEUP
Leonel Moreira; Yurguin Román, José Salvatierra (Fernán Faerrón – 73’), Daniel Arreola, José Miguel Cubero, Johan Venegas, Bryan Ruiz ©, Barlon Sequeira (Jurguens Montenegro – 52’), Marcel Hernández, Alexander López, Adrián Alonso, Martínez Batista.
Substitutes not used: Aarón Suárez, Mauricio Vargas, Júnior Díaz, Brandon Aguilera, Bernald Alfaro.
Said Martinez (referee), Walter Lopez, (assistant), Roney Salinas, (assistant), Tristley Bassue (fourth).
- Gabriel Heinze won his first game as head coach of Atlanta United
- The win marked the first road win in SCCL play for Atlanta United
- Ezequiel Barco scored his 11th goal with Atlanta United
- Santiago Sosa, Franco Ibarra, Lisandro Lopez and Rocco Ríos Novo made their club debuts
- Ríos Novo set the club’s single-match CCL record with six saves
- Anton Walkes led the team with 11 clearances
- Brooks Lennon created a team-high three chances and put in six crosses
- Santiago Sosa led the team with 83 total touches