Atlanta United Loses Season Opener to D.C. United
Atlanta, GA (www.atlutd.com) – A frustrating start to the MLS season for Atlanta United, who fell by a score of 2-0 on a cold, wet night in the nation’s capital versus D.C. United.
With another Concacaf Champions League match on the horizon, Frank de Boer made two changes to the lineup that won in Atlanta on Thursday. Tito Villalba made the starting XI in place of Pity Martinez, while Mikey Ambrose came onto the right flank for Julian Gressel. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Miles Robinson (CB), Brek Shea (LWB), Eric Remedi (CM), Darlington Nagbe (CM), Mikey Ambrose (RWB), Ezequiel Barco (FWD), Josef Martinez (FWD), Tito Villalba (FWD).
The first half was full of “nearly” chances for Atlanta United. Tito Villalba got behind the defense after an inch-perfect cross from Brad Guzan, but lost his footing in the wet conditions. Barco showed a flash of quickness to get behind the defense again, but lost his footing before he could get off a shot. And Villalba again came closest in the 40th minute, beating his man on the dribble and blasting a low shot that went just inches wide of the D.C. United goal.
But they were made to pay for those missed chances just before the half. It came off a corner kick in stoppage time. A scramble in the box led to a loose ball falling kindly into the path of Paul Arriola, who hit home from close range to make it 1-0 with nearly the last kick of the match. They would double their lead twelve minutes into the second half, with a long-range shot from Lucho Acosta taking a tough bounce off the soaked pitch and going in in the 57th minute.
Pity Martinez, Julian Gressel and Jeff Larentowicz all came on to bring fresh energy to the match, and Atlanta United dominated possession for the final third of the match. But chances were hard to come by on a cold night in Washington, DC –– and Atlanta United fell by a final score of 2-0.
Fortunately for Atlanta United, there’s a chance at redemption just around the corner. The team will travel straight to Mexico to take on CF Monterrey in the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League, before heading back home to face FC Cincinnati at their MLS home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.