Atlanta United kicked off the Stephen Glass era with a 2-0 win over Nashville SC in an eerily empty Mercedes-Benz Stadium. To say that the Five Stripes are back may be a bit premature, but there’s no doubt that the much-needed win was a great start under new leadership. There were some issues and the match didn’t go as smoothly as you would dream about, but there’s a lot of positives to take away. Here are some thoughts on the team’s first win since friggin’ March.
- First and foremost, this team needed a win. We can talk about style of play and tactics all you want, but it’s clear that the players were in a funk. Winning cures all. Hopefully they can go on from this result and start playing with more confidence to string some more wins together.
- Now, as for what the team actually looked like in the first match under Glass … Not bad. There were some struggles all over the field. From building out of the back to connecting the midfield and attack, it was rough going for long stretches of the game. However, there were some bright spots. The overall energy of the team was great. They did well to press high when possible and always being alert and willing to make the extra run to cover up mistakes. The build-up play on Brooks Lennon’s great chance in the first half is a prime example of what Glass is looking for: Quick decisions and finding the gaps to create chances. That chance should’ve been a goal and may have made things a lot different had it resulted in one.
- Nevertheless, Pity Martinez went out and had himself a game. Looking like Andy Dufresne on the beach in Mexico living his best life, Pity was as influential as we’ve ever seen him in an Atlanta shirt. His individual brilliance essentially won the match for the Five Stripes. His first touch and then dribble around a defender for the first goal was sublime. While his thunderbolt of a clinching strike late in the second half looked like 18 months of frustration exiting his aura. We can only hope we continue to see this version of Pity Martinez consistently from here on.
- Pity was clearly Man of the Match but we must give some love to his left flank-mate, George Bello. There was some doubt by many if the youngster could play as a natural left-back in a four-defender backline. Sure he had a few hiccups in his first chance, but I think it’s safe to say those worries were alleviated nicely. While he was steady in defense, only getting beat a couple of times, he was a threat in the attack and should’ve had an assist to his name in the first half. Bello should get plenty more chances to prove himself and if he improves on this performance the future of the left-back spot is looking great.
- It wasn’t a perfect first match for a new look system, but it sure was a helluva lot better than what we saw in Orlando a month ago. Now it’s just a matter of building chemistry, continuing to learn the system and most importantly getting fully healthy. Let’s remember that the lineup tonight was far from the best potential eleven that Glass could pick. Once Ezequiel Barco, Jurgen Damm and Cubo Torres are all ready to go this team has the potential to go places.