Atlanta United went all the way through the continent, in short rest, played a provisional battle and came away with a 1-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps. It was so good of a performance that anyone could have hoped for under the circumstances, as Five Stripe's amazing form continues. Here are a few thoughts on a historic victory:
Donuts and Mate
With their pure salmon in Canada, the Atlanta United became the first team in MLS history to win five consecutive matches while keeping their opponents away from the scoring. It is a truly remarkable implementation considering what the backline of this game was like. Brek Shea came back in the lineup and undoubtedly had his best game since the second leg against Herediano. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez moved from his usual left midpoint back to the right and did not miss a stroke. Franco Escobar was his usual brilliant self. Enjoy him while you can, because teams from all over the world come after him very soon. Then there's Florentin Pogba.
Pog-boom or Pog-bust?
Although it is disrespectful to exclude any of the defenders in this because they were all huge, we need to talk about Pogba's full debut. Veteran in Ligue 1 entered the lineup for Miles Robinson of all people, probably the team's best defender this season. The first remarkable thing about the tall and lightweight Pogba is just as good that he is with the ball at his feet. He is calm and composed and can, for the most part, choose a passport from virtually anywhere on the course. He pinged the left, right and center and they virtually all found the mark with great accuracy. On several occasions he has helped a counter attack with his distribution.
As the game continued, his physical and defensive secret began to emerge. He had several coupling eaves and turned out to be very strong on the ball when he was under pressure. Unfortunately, Pogba tries to break into the best backline in the league. How does he get more playing time? Robinson and LGP do not go anywhere. Escobar neither. Can he be an option on the left back? He has played some in his career. It is certainly not out of the possibilities.
evaluation? Very much a Pog-boom for Florentin on his full debut.
Dan Gargan mentioned at the FOX Sports South broadcast that it appears that Atlanta United has embarked on their new identity. But what exactly is that? You may have fallen in love with Tata Martino's high octane attack style, but Atlanta United is now very defensive. It doesn't matter what was preached at preliminary press conferences or what a presumably club ethos might or may not be. Frank de Boers team is about to admit the fewest possible goals and is calculated in the attack.
It may not feel exciting, but this approach works and is dominant. Atlanta shattered Vancouver in everyone's favorite stats, expected goals. It doesn't feel as exciting or fun as watching Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez fly up and down the track at every opportunity. But the results speak for themselves at the moment. People thought De Boer was bringing Total Football with him to Atlanta. Instead, he brought Catenaccio. Learn to love it.