One of the weird things about journalism, aside from feckless integrity, is its ability to create a narrative. Isn’t that weird? No matter the insignificance of the detail focused on, just about any story can seem like it was the leading one of the day. On Sunday, though, there were so many storylines playing off of one another that it’s hard to root out exactly which one ought to be highlighted. A sold out crowd, a state-of-the-art stadium, Miguel’s creativity, stout goalkeeping from Jesse Gonzalez, Josef’s first goal since July (his new hair?), the world record for the most yuppies in one stadium section (section 101); we’re spoiled for choice.
These myriad threads come together, though, as the return of the high-flying Atlanta United that had characterized most of our season. 54% possession, 19 shots with 12 on target, and 72% passing accuracy in the opposition’s half only go so far in telling the tale of United’s dominance against Dallas. Almiron and Villalba were superb, each seeming unstoppable in tight spaces. Miguel, in particular, left me with the impression that he’d regained his instinct in the final third. The 4-2-3-1, although unexotic, provided a welcome change to what had become a somewhat stagnant midfield, and I’d honestly like to see Tata keep experimenting with different combinations going forward.
The crowd certainly affected what transpired on the pitch. Mercedes Benz Stadium looked gorgeous, and the echo of 45,000+ fans must have intimidated FC Dallas, who were alarmingly underproductive. The expansive pitch also benefitted United, offering plenty of room in which our attacking prong could flourish. We’re a possession team, so this should only add to the home field advantage. Seven more matches will be contested at the Benz this season, and none of them will be under attended. I reckon the rest of MLS will be loath to meet us there.
The Five Stripes square up against an emboldened New England Revolution tomorrow. Coming off back to back wins, the Revs are hunting for a playoff berth that seemed out of the question earlier in the season. With things so tight in the middle of the eastern conference, this game will be crucial for Atlanta in gobbling up points from the teams that might challenge for a top six spot. Kei Kamara and Lee Nguyen will be the x-factors for New England, but given that our defense looked reassuring on Sunday, I expect an exciting battle at the back. Kick-off is at 7:00, and you can watch on Fox Sports South or using the Fox Sports App.