Atlanta United Football Club played to a 2-2 draw against NYCFC Sunday evening in front of 45,001 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Tactically, it was the best match for Atlanta United because NYCFC played with a 4-3-3 that defensively pressed Atlanta’s midfield. Meanwhile Atlanta played in a 3-5-2 formation with Garza and McCann as the wingbacks.
“Personally, I think that is one of the highest, intense games we’ve had – probably in the past year and half this team has been going on — that I have been here at least,” Atlanta United Head Coach Tata Martino said, Sunday. “Two very good teams. That is a heck of a team out there, New York City (FC). I think we deserved a bit more. It hurts coming out with the tie, but we definitely need to keep our heads up we are still unbeaten five games. Hopefully, we keep that streak going.”
Greg Garza scored in the 29th minute, tapping a home a rebound by NYCFC’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Miguel Almirón’s shot came from the edge of the 18 yard box and forced Johnson to make a diving save to his right, but he pushed it directly to Garza, who easily slotted it into the back of the net.
“I think everyone has done their job phenomenally,” Garza said post match. “To be honest, I think everyone has been put in spots to where when we do have people out everyone has played up to what they’re expected. I think that the way they made this team this year from the Directors, President and Coach, we definitely have a team to think big, but we have to keep our heads straight moving forward through the season.”
Ezequiel Barco was placed in one of those spots in the 69th minute. The Five Stripes gave Barco his debut in MLS and it appeared Martino allowed Barco and Almirón to operate interchangeably on the wings while Jeff Larentowicz and Darlington Nagbe were in holding midfielder roles. Effectively, Atlanta United played with four midfielders.
“I think that he looked good,” Martino said about Barco. “Physically, I thought he looked fine. He was dynamic. I think that he was missing a little bit in his precision and when he came on we went to four midfielders and we had Nagbe and Jeff (Larentowicz) playing inside with Barco on the right and Miguel (Almirón) on the left.”
Now, Atlanta will have to face off against the much ballyhooed Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy are coming off of a 1-0 win in Chicago against the Fire in which Ibra scored the winning goal. He has scored three goals in three appearances. Meanwhile, the Galaxy have signed Ola Kamara to a new three year contract. Only David Villa and Bradley Wright-Phillips have scored more goals than Kamara in the last two seasons.
Atlanta United will face off against the LA Galaxy Saturday night at the Stub Hub Center. Kickoff is 10:30pm on Fox Sports SouthEast.