Atlanta United returns to Fifth Third Bank Stadium for the second leg in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. The 5-Stripes take a 1-0 advantage into the match against Costa Rican side LD Alajuelense. Atlanta United advances with any win or draw on Tuesday night. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Protect the Lead
Ezequiel Barco scored from the penalty spot in the first leg to give Atlanta United a 1-0 victory. It marked the club’s first road win in Concacaf Champions League. The victory was even more impressive after the 5-Stripes were down a man for the entire second half. 18-year old Rocco Rios Novo came on and made six saves, a new team CCL record. Atlanta United controlled the play in the first half when the match was 11-v-11 and they need to do the same on Tuesday night. Atlanta had 64.8% possession, won 59.2% of the duels and out-shot Alajuelense 7-4 in the opening half. If the 5-Stripes can duplicate that performance for the full 90 minutes, they will be in a great position to protect the 1-0 aggregate score lead.
Continue Dominance at Fifth Third Bank Stadium
Tuesday’s second leg will be played at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. The venue has become a staple in the early rounds of CCL and U.S. Open Cup action for Atlanta United. In fact, Atlanta United has never lost a match at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. In CCL play, Atlanta have secured victories of 4-0 (vs. Herediano in 2019) and 3-0 (vs. Motagua in 2020) in matches played at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. If you add in the U.S. Open Cup results (4-0-0) then Atlanta United has a perfect 6-0-0 mark in the venue. The goal difference in matches played by Atlanta United at Fifth Third Bank Stadium is 18-3 (+15) combined. The 5-Stripes will look to add to that mark against LD Alajuelense on Tuesday night.
Believe in the new style and system
Last week’s first leg brought with it glimpses of the style and system that new head coach Gabriel Heinze is looking to implement in his tenure with Atlanta United. Santiago Sosa was a key player in the buildup play throughout the match. He led the team in touches (83), total passes (63) and successful passes (49). Brooks Lennon and George Bello provided attacking options on the wing, with Lennon leading the team in chances created (3). Franco Ibarra made his club debut and was impressive in the middle of the pitch, especially in the second half closing down Alajuelense players all night. It is still a process, so the more matches the team plays, the more comfortable they will be in the style and system that Heinze wants to play. Tuesday night is another opportunity to grow as the team looks to advance to the CCL Quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
Catch all the action on Tuesday night live on FS1 as Atlanta United hosts LD Alajuelense of Costa Rica in the second leg with kickoff set for 6pm ET from Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia.