Atlanta bested D.C. in a clash of the Uniteds at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that ended in an easy 3-1 victory for the home side.
Despite a midweek road trip that saw the 5-Stripes face off with LAFC in a scoreless draw, Atlanta seemed to have fared better. The Black-and-Red remained at home for a midweek friendly with Liga MX’s Club Necaxa.
Giorgos Giakoumakis notched the first goal of the match for Atlanta in the 13′, putting the home team on the front foot against D.C. United. Miles Robinson lobbed a long ball to Giakoumakis, who caught Tyler Miller out of the net. Taking advantage of the moment, the striker made an attempt for a tricky angle to find the back of D.C.’s net.
The 5-Stripes weren’t letting up on the Black-and-Red as the half wore on. They easily snuck into D.C.’s final third with every intention of causing trouble. Despite some diligent efforts by D.C. – like Pedro Santos’ determination in marking Derrick Etienne Jr. – Atlanta’s attack presented a challenge.
Finally, Atlanta had a misstep that gave Taxi Fountas the ball and a whole half of the field to make his canvas. Capitalizing on a fast break, Fountas charged down the field with options galore. He chose the most direct path to take a shot from the center of the box and best Brad Guzan in the 27′, bringing the Black-and-Red level with their hosts.
D.C. and Atlanta headed into halftime all tied up, setting the stage for an exciting second half.
We didn’t have to wait long to see the match progress, albeit not in the direction D.C. United would have hoped. Danger man Thiago Almada found Andrew Gutman in the box with a through ball in the 49′. A misinterpretation by Miller saw Gutman put another in the back of the net for the 5-Stripes and leave D.C. United to chase yet another equalizer.
Atlanta would find a comfortable lead in the 73′ as Gutman made a difficult cross to a recently subbed in Tyler Wolff, finding him right in front of goal. Wolff slid right into D.C.’s net with the ball. A brief VAR check had Black-and-Red supporters feeling hopeful, but Wolff’s goal would stand to make it a 3-1 lead for the 5-Stripes.
While the scoreline was frustrating, it’s a risk of the style of play head coach Wayne Rooney has encouraged. As he has mentioned in the past, it would only be a matter of time before Miller was caught out by leaning into the role of sweeper-keeper. Rooney reiterated this tonight after the match but also praised Miller, saying, “I think he’s been brilliant all season, and he knows as well as anyone that he made a couple of mistakes which cost two goals.”
Ultimately, the Black-and-Red couldn’t turn the tide against a strong Atlanta side at home, dropping three points on the road. They return home to face Real Salt Lake on June 17 at 7:30 pm ET.
MLS Regular Season – Game 18
Atlanta United: 3 Giakoumakis 13′, Gutman 49′, Wolff 73′
D.C. United: 1 Fountas 27′
Atlanta United: Brad Guzan, Brooks Lennon, Miles Robinson, Juanjo Purata, Andrew Gutman, Franco Ibarra (Osvaldo “Ozzie” Alonso 84′), Jay Fortune (Amar Sejdić 72′), Thiago Almada, Derrick Etienne Jr. (Tyler Wolff 62′), Caleb Wiley (Machop Chol 84′), Giorgos Giakoumakis (Miguel Berry 84′)
D.C. United: Tyler Miller, Pedro Santos (Kristian Fletcher 83′), Donovan Pines, Steve Birnbaum, Victor Pálsson, Jacob Greene (Cristian Dájome 65′), Lewis O’Brien, Chris Durkin, Mateusz Klich, Taxi Fountas, Christian Benteke
Atlanta United: Fortune 42′, Giakoumakis 83′
D.C. United: Pines 51′, Birnbaum 69′, Klich 89′
Featured image courtesy of D.C. United // Hannah Wagner