Atlanta United earned its second consecutive victory Sunday night over D.C. United in a 2-0 result. Here are my three thoughts on the victory by the Five Stripes:
Could this be the turnaround?
Despite coming in as a sub in the second half, Pity Martinez proved to be the difference-maker for Atlanta United Sunday afternoon after scoring the game-winner and providing an assist on the second goal scored by Josef Martinez. Pity did not start last Wednesday against Houston and on Sunday, he was left on the bench once again, but during Sunday’s match, Pity showed the fans a performance that many had been waiting for since he signed his contract with the Five Stripes. Moving to a new country can take some time to get used to, we saw that with Ezequiel Barco last year, and hopefully, we’re near the end of that transition period with Pity because with the busy schedule ahead, the Five Stripes could definitely benefit from another Pity performance just like the one from Sunday.
Keep the 3-5-2 formation
During the last two matches, manager Frank De Boer has gone with a 3-5-2 formation and to keep it simple, Atlanta has played some of its most beautiful soccer in all of 2019. The 3-5-2 formation was used by Tata Martino last year, so most of the players are used to it and also, the formation allows Atlanta to not only dominate in possession but also push its wingers forward and find either an open Josef Martinez, Brandon Vazquez, Pity Martinez or another player open in the six-yard box. Last Friday, Josef said that the identity of Atlanta during its first two and a half years is that the team is not a defensive team, rather it’s an attacking team, and he likes to see Julian Gressel on the wing because that’s where he plays best. During the last two matches, the team has played like it did in 2018 and it’s a sign of beauty. We’ll have to keep an eye to see if De Boer will go with such formation again Friday night against LAFC but when the most important player in your team likes the old formation, why change it again?
Most important match so far in the MLS season takes place Friday
The Five Stripes will attempt to come away with at least one point from Los Angeles when the team faces LAFC Friday night. At the moment, LAFC is the clear favorite to win this year’s MLS Cup, forward Carlos Vela is in the lead for the Golden Boot, and it’s the clear favorite to win the MVP award and manager Bob Bradley will more than likely win the manager of the year award, so in a nutshell, LAFC is the 2019 version of what Atlanta was in 2018. But one key thing to notice now is that Atlanta United is slowly moving in the right direction, Josef has scored in seven straight games and will look it to make it eight Friday, and he also has 16 goals, five behind Vela. Coming back with a point or even all three will be huge for Atlanta moving forward, but LAFC has won eight games at home and only tied one this year.