Atlanta United defeated Houston 5-0 Wednesday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The last time that I remember when United scored five goals against an opponent was against LAFC last season. The match against Houston was more of a confidence booster than anything else but here are my three thoughts on Wednesday’s match:
In a match when the opponent goes down to 10-man after just the sixth minute, you simply can’t analyze too much from it. But like manager Frank De Boer said in his postgame press conference, the last time Atlanta was in a similar situation, against the Red Bulls, the team did not take care of business and ended up losing 1-0. Instead, Wednesday night, the team changed the formation from four defenders to three and with five midfielders and two forwards, the Five Stripes scored two goals in the first half and three in the second to secure its seventh home victory in MLS play.
With the loss at Chicago and Seattle and the draw against the Red Bulls that felt like a loss, the team definitely needed this kind of performance especially when the team is preparing to face two tough opponents in D.C. United and LAFC in the next week.
Build Josef a statue outside of Mercedes-Benz
Josef Martinez scored twice against Houston which was his 14th and 15th goals of the season in MLS play. Martinez has now scored 10 goals in his last six MLS games, and most importantly, he has scored against every MLS team in just two and a half years. After the Venezuelan striker enjoyed one of the most successful seasons by an MLS player last season, he is slowly catching on fire when the team needs him the most. As of right now, most people would pick LAFC’s Carlos Vela as the MVP given that he has scored 19 goals and has 14 assists, but if Martinez continues his current hot streak, he’ll have something to say about that.
Yes, this season has been a rollercoaster from bad performances to good performances, players suffering injuries or being suspended because of card accumulations, to playing internationally for the first time but the fact of the matter is, this team still has an opportunity to put on a strong second half and ultimately, add more silverware to its trophy case.
Right now, the team is third in the Eastern Conference and just three points behind first place, the team is in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals for the first time in franchise history, and De Boer hinted at Ezequiel Barco and George Bello coming back from injury “soon.”
Like I have said before to other media members, MLS is a league that is very forgiving because once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. Should the injured players return soon, I expect a strong second half to United’s season.