Atlanta United defeated Sporting KC 3-0 at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday in a game that felt like a return to normalcy for the defending MLS Cup champs.
Let us count the ways.
1. They were fun to watch
Part of the reason Atlanta so quickly embraced UTD was they played an exciting brand of soccer.
This year…not so much.
Even in their better performances and wins, they never consistently hit the “exhilarating” pace that defined them during their first two years.
Away at KC, they were counter-attacking and pressing, generating shots and playing with confidence.
They looked like Atlanta United.
2. Martinez got the goals and attention, but wasn’t the best player
Josef Martinez is an amazing player who broke the MLS seasonal goal record last year. He won MVP.
This year, Ezequiel Barco is looking like the Almiron-engine that will drive United.
On that note, Pity Martinez looks like the 2018-version of Barco: a talented fly in the ointment who may be a year away from making the impact we all expected.
3. However…Atlanta got kinda lucky
More on this later, but Frank de Boerhas eschewed his worst impulses and let his squad open it up lately.
However, the game against KC isn’t necessarily a sustainable model. Atlanta took a high number of shots outside the 18. Barco converted his. Josef Martinez’s second shot was just inside the box but it was not a high percentage shot. He just struck it incredibly well.
Regardless, Atlanta passed the eye test on Sunday. It looks like a squad that found their footing and went back to the basics that have made them successful in the past.