Atlanta United defeated New England Revolution 1-0 in a close match Saturday afternoon. The Five Stripes will now face the Philadelphia Union in the second round of the playoffs. Here are my three thoughts on United’s win:
With the match tied late into the second half, Frank De Boer substituted in Florentin Pogba and Tito Villalba for Justin Meram and Emerson Hyndman. With the subs, De Boer also changed the formation to a 4-3-3, which allowed Ezequiel Barco to be more free in the midfield, ultimately leading to the great through pass to Franco Escobar for the game-winning goal.
With the playoffs in a win-or-go-home format, De Boer did a great job at adjusting his tactics as the match played on and he was able to put the Five Stripes in a position to win the game.
Barco over Pity
For the second match in a row, Pity Martinez was left in the bench during the entire length of the match. When asked about his decision, manager Frank De Boer said that he will place the 11 players on the field that he thinks will have the best opportunity to help the team win the game.
With that being said, I agree with the decision of Barco being in the starting 11. Throughout the entire match, Barco was the key playmaker Atlanta had in the central midfielder role and once the subs were made in the second half, he was able to shine even brighter. At this point, it would not surprise me to see Barco start on Thursday’s match over Pity once again.
The Five Stripes once again proved to a forced to be reckoned with when playing at home. Despite the traffic, rain and unusual start time, over 66 thousand fans made their way to the Benz and support United, just as they have all season.
Now, Atlanta will have the opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference final for the second season in a row when the team will face the Philadelphia Union. Despite another mid-week game and a late start, I expect the game to be close a sell-out and with the full support of the 17’s, this will be a tough environment for the Union to play in.
Also, if Michael Parkhurst is not able to play again because of his shoulder injury, I just want to say that he gave it his all against New England and for that, I give my thanks and I’m sure every Atlanta fan does as well.