ATLANTA, GEORGIA—The dream of Atlanta United for a Major League Soccer playoff spot this year is very much alive. After a minor weather delay, Atlanta United and Orlando City SC resumed their rivalry for a midweek match at Exploria Stadium.
The current Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions were defeated by Atlanta United 1-0 thanks to a brilliant strike from Thiago Almada in the second half. As a result, Atlanta wins two straight games for the first time this year and gains three enormous points that are crucial to the team’s playoff chances.
Gonzalo Pineda’s team’s starting lineup remained unchanged. The manager of Atlanta United used the same starting lineup that helped his team defeat Toronto FC 4-2 last weekend. The only difference was that Josef Martnez was back on the bench after his ban and thus accessible.
Atlanta United goalkeeper Ral Gudino made the first stop of the game in the 21st minute. Junior Urso, an Orlando City SC midfielder, attempted to clear a cross with a header, but Gudino stopped the attempt. In the 26th minute, Gudino produced yet another significant moment.
A passing opportunity was spotted by Orlando City midfielder Mauricio Pereyra, who then passed the ball to striker Facundo Torres who was making a vertical run. Right in front of Gudino, Torres passed the ball low across the penalty area. The 6-foot-4 goalkeeper for Atlanta blocked the shot with the aid of Alan Franco, his center defender.
Pineda made his first substitutions of the game in the 56th minute. After serving his punishment, Josef Martnez entered the game and began to play. The 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders saw midfielder Matheus Rossetto make his first start since August 6 by coming on as a substitute. They took Dwyer’s and Sejdi’s places.
Pineda made Atlanta United’s last substitutions of the game in the 86th minute. Ronaldo Cisneros and Caleb Wiley replaced Araujo and Almada on the field. Gudino made a crucial stop on the game’s final play to maintain Atlanta United’s 1-0 lead. Atlanta United earns its first back-to-back victories of the year, gains three significant points in the Eastern Conference standings, and temporarily closes the playoff gap to two points.
The second of Atlanta United’s two games this week will take place on September 17 when they host the top team in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia Union. At Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it’s Hispanic Heritage Night, so reserve your seat right away!