Atlanta United came into Thursday's game with a mountain to climb: a two-goal deficit against a team in high season in a delicate playoff game. Back to the wall, they achieved a worthy performance of the star, dominating the CS Herediano in a 4-0 defeat to a crowd of rowdy fighters at home at Fifth Third Bank Stadium to make sure of their place on the next turn.
Frank de Boer opted for tactical adjustments to the big changes after last week's disappointing first-leg performance. Brek Shea replaced George Bello, injured, on the left flank, while Darlington Nagbe made his debut in the center, taking Jeff Larentowicz in the middle of the field. The complete XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst (BC), Miles Robinson (BC), Brek Shea (LWB), Eric Remedi (CM), Darlington Nagbe (CM), Julian Gressel (RWB), Ezequiel Barco (FWD), Josef Martinez (FWD), Pity Martinez (FWD).
The Five Stripes needed a quick start to break the two-goal deficit, and they could not have started faster. It all started with a spark on the left flank of Brek Shea, who wrapped himself in a dangerous cross that was inches from Josef Martinez's head. But the ball was too hot for defender Herediano, whose lost touch was closely picked up by Josef for his first game of the season – and at 47 seconds, the fastest goal in the club's history.
But Atlanta United needed more than that and they put the pressure on, and it only took a few minutes to find another one. It was great on the right. Julian Gressel gave the reply to Ezequiel Barco, who pivoted and passed a perfect pass for Gressel who scored the goal of 2-0 on the right side of the goal. at night, and that's the score that they would take in half.
That score would have been enough to go, with Atlanta United goal tied in the tiebreak in a total score of 3-3. But the tie remains on the razor's edge, the Five Stripes continued to push for an insurance goal. Their pressure was less than 20 minutes after the start of the second period, with Eric Remedi's beautiful ball finding Brek Shea behind the left-wing defense and Josef Martinez's first center finding the center of the ball in the center of the ball. field, which allowed them to score a goal. for his second of the night.
The back line of the Five Stripes looked like a different team from the one who had communication problems in the first leg and kept Herediano at arm's length throughout the match. Overall, it was a dominant performance back and forth, and the defense got the goal they deserved just before the start of the match, with Leandro González Pirez heading to a center in Ezequiel Barco to score 4-0 and a comfortable final. ten minutes.
It was exactly the performance that red, black and gold needed after a flickering first game of the season, and a statement of intent for a team that aims to win in the Concacaf Champions League. And it all started with the support that changed the stands in the stands, the 17-year-old once again changing the game in a rowdy and proud night. The defending MLS champions will now face the Liga MX giants Monterrey in the next round. More details will be announced soon, so stay tuned to Atlanta United's social media for the latest news.