After 90 minutes of mediocrity and slow soccer, Atlanta United scored the winner and stole two points from Club de Foot Montreal in the 94th minute. Substitute Jake Mulraney provided a cross to Marcelino Moreno’s head to give the fan-filled Mercedes-Benz Stadium something to cheer about.
“It’s beautiful to see so many people in the stadium,” said head coach Gabriel Heinze. “Football is for the people. I’m very happy because the players gave everything to get the win.”
It seemed as if the game was going to finish as a boring and toothless 0-0 draw with Club de Foot. However, Moreno’s header boosted the Five Stripes up to second in the Eastern Conference at the time of writing. Atlanta is now tied with NYCFC and Montreal on points, but Atlanta’s goal differential puts the Five Stripes in second in the East.
While there were no goals throughout the entirety of the match until the literal last minute, Atlanta didn’t exactly threaten or deserve any chances for large stretches. There were a handful of chances in the opening 20 minutes, including a scuffed shot by Moreno near the 6 in the 17th minute. Atlanta then went the rest of the first half without another shot until 45+2’.
The second half was much of the same. Emerson Hyndman got a decent shot away in the 58th minute after some nice one touch passing from Atlanta, and Josef Martinez nearly scored his second of the season after a decent counter attack.
Atlanta’s attacking game plan seemed to consist of two things: long balls and runs in behind. That was pretty much it, and as one might be able to guess, that game plan didn’t exactly threaten Montreal’s backline. Atlanta finished the game with 0.8 xG to Montreal’s 0.7, and Moreno’s header was credited with 4.46%.
In the end, Atlanta got the three points. But, that’s not a sustainable solution to winning games on a regular basis. As mentioned in a lot of places throughout this young season, Atlanta still lacks that attacking threat in the final third and that was highlighted again tonight. Atlanta finished the game with two (2) shots on target.
“It certainly wasn’t our best game,” said goalkeeper Brad Guzan. “But sometimes you have to find a way to get over the hump and we did that.”
Atlanta United next plays the Seattle Sounders at Lumen Field on Sunday, May 23.