In a battle of the United’s Atlanta took on Minnesota with limited weapons and came up short 3-2. The Scoring Machine Josef Martinez was called up for international play. He was not the only player missing Miguel Almiron was out due to a left hamstring injury. Alec Kann had a quad issue, and Greg Garza was a last minute decision due to a left lower extremity injury. All in all, they were missing five starters.
However, all my rowdy friends dressed in 5 Stripes were behind the net as usual, but the game missed a bit of spice. The teams started, as usual, measuring each other’s agility. ATL was first to attempt to score, but Goalie Bobby Shuttleworth blocked it on a hook slide. Tito Villalba made a try down the middle the shot was blocked. A third attempt came, but Shuttleworth raced from the net and dove to the ground for his third block before the 14-minute mark in the match.
I give ATL UTD credit they started the game with an aggressive mindset focused on scoring. Minnesota was determined to hold their own which caused tempers flair. It was a rough play on Tito Villalba that drew a yellow card for Collin Martin in the 30th minute. ATL united returned the aggressive play Tyrone Mears was penalized with a yellow card for his efforts as the two players crashed going for a 50-50 ball in the 38th minute. The first half ended with no score by either team. Atlanta recorded six total shots two from inside the box and four outside.
Ambrose came out of the locker room with an attempt that wowed the hometown crowd of 43,185, but it went over the net. The games first score came at the 48th-minute mark by Abu Danladi on a left foot swing kick that landed in the back of the net giving Minnesota United the lead 1-0. The ATL goalie Kyle Reynish charged outside of the box on the last player attempting a score and drew a red card. He was ejected forcing them to play with ten players at the 60-minute mark. They were down by 1 point now down by one player as well. Doom and gloom settled into the building.
Tito Villalba woke up the crowd when he tied the game in the 66th minute with an unassisted dagger right down the middle of the box for Atlanta’s first score. Julian Gressel followed up with a beautiful kick for a score in the 72nd minute assisted by Yamil Asad. Yamil faked as if though he was going to kick toward the net instead turning and passing to Gressel, he did a stop with the right foot, a tap to the left foot, then a jab with the right foot for the score. ATL was up 2-1. The once subdued crowd was on full blast, momentum was definitely for the hometown united team.
The other United team knew they had to rise to the occasion Brent Kallman prevented a breakaway attempt too aggressively picking up a yellow card in the 79th minute. Thinking about the grueling eight games in 23 days they were playing Head coach Tata Martino pulled Gressel shortly after he exited to a standing ovation. Then on a jumbled up play in front of the net Christian Ramirez head-butted the ball past the goalie to tie the match 2-2. He was assisted by Collen Warner and Sam Nicholson at the 90th-minute mark. +7 minutes of stoppage time was granted to complete the match. The third score by Kevin Molino was indeed the charm as the other united team from Minnesota beat our favorite united team from Atlanta 3-2.
Head Coach Tata Martino: On having to play games scheduled during an international break:
“There’s not a lot I can say about that. They put the game at this time; we understood we had to play at this time. We know that every time there are national team games that some players are going to be gone. Minnesota was lucky that Trinidad and Tobago left them, two players. But I don’t want to use that as a reference because we already knew the schedule that we had. I’m more upset about the foul in the first half because it seems like there was a double error an error by the referee and whoever views the replay. It seems like we’ll have to put someone to check the referee and someone to check the person on review.