MLS SOCCER

Atlanta United finishes regular season on high note

Julian Gressel celebrates a career night for him scoring one goal and two assists

ATLANTA — The Five Stripes won its last regular season home match of 2019 in a convincing 3-1 scoreline against the New England Revolution.

With the win, Atlanta finishes the regular season with 58 points and in second place in the Eastern Conference. The second place finish secures Atlanta with at least two home matches in the playoffs, should the team advance to the second round. 

Looking ahead to the playoffs, Atlanta will once again host the Revolution in two weeks, who finished in seventh place in the East.

“It feels good. What’s important is that we feel good as a team. After that second half, I think we can go with our heads held high into the playoffs, with a lot of confidence,” Atlanta midfielder Julian Gressel said. “(We will) see that team again (and) send them home with their heads down with a loss here.”

Looking back at Sunday’s match, Julian Gressel became the playmaker for Atlanta as he notched two assists and scored once.

Darlington Nagbe gave Atlanta an early lead at the third minute of the match. The goal was set up by Gressel, who crossed the ball into the box and Nagbe sneaked up in front of Josef Martinez and tapped the ball into the left side of the goal.

The lead wouldn’t last long as Cristian Penilla tied it five minutes later after he was left in a one-on-one situation with Brad Guzan. Penilla finished the scoring play by shooting the ball into the bottom corner of the near post.

The second half began with Martinez giving Atlanta the lead again by scoring his 27th goal of the season. This was also Martinez first game back after suffering what many had thought was a season-ending injury just two weeks ago against San Jose.

After providing two assists, Julian Gressel scored the team’s insurance goal by scoring an amazing goal where the ball hit the left post and then the back of the net from about 25 yards out.

The 44,617 fans in attendance also saw the last regular season appearance for Michael Parkhurst, who came in as a sub at the 78th minute.

Parkhurst was the team’s first captain and announced his retirement at the end of 2019. 

“Mike is very special for us. He’s like the father or grandfather of all of us, and we love him a lot. We appreciate him as a player. He’s an incredible player,” Atlanta’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez said. “I think he had more to give us, but he decided to make this decision, and we’re going to support him and we wish him the best in his career and hopefully we can have him working in the club if he wants because we’re going to miss him on the team. He’s a great reference, a great captain for us and we’re very happy with him and we’ll miss him.”

The Eastern Conference playoff bracket is as follows:

  1. NYCFC – bye week (awaits winner between No. 4 and No.5 seed matchup)
  2. Atlanta United vs New England Revolution
  3. Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls
  4. Toronto FC vs DC United
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