Atlanta United Exorcise D.C. United Demons in 3-1 Win

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ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 05: Atlanta United head coach Gerardo Martino watches the action on the field during the game against the New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (March 11, 2018) – For the first time in their history, Atlanta United FC defeated D.C. United. After losing to them three times in 2017 by an aggregate score of 6-2, Atlanta United exorcise their D.C. demon. They defeated them on Sunday afternoon 3-1.

Atlanta United Exorcise D.C. United Demons in 3-1 Win on Sunday Afternoon

Atlanta came out on fire in the first half. They out-possessed the visitors by a wide margin and outshot them 8-1 in the first half. The finishing left much to be desired as the D.C. defense survived by the skin of their teeth, with David Ousted making several big saves. The dam finally broke in the 24th minute as Josef Martinez scored on the run as Atlanta got in transition. Hector Villalba delivered a great pass to make it happen.

The visitors tightened up in the second half, bringing on Luciano Acosta to try and create some offense. D.C. had trouble creating anything with numbers though and Darren Mattocks struggled doing anything with his touches.

Atlanta ultimately broke the game open. First in the 73rd minute, Julian Gressel made a great run down the flank and set a cross to Miguel Almiron at the top of the box. The No. 10 took a touch to control, then went upper 90 to hit the top corner of the goal. Just two minutes later, Atlanta took a cheeky free kick that led to a Hector Villalba header goal.

Mattocks did score in the 86th minute on an innocuous build up, but the match ended 3-1.

Three things to take note of:

Poor finishing in the first half: The scoreline doesn’t show it, but it took Atlanta some time to get into this match from a finishing stand point. They could have easily been up 2-0 at half time. The big names ultimately came through, but it should still be something they work on in training.

D.C. still figuring things out: Few teams in the Eastern Conference went through as many changes as D.C. this off-season. The front four are still figuring out their system and personal tendencies. They didn’t have much of the ball in this game, but when they did, they clearly looked like a work in progress. They’ll need to improve the chemistry in the coming weeks.

Julian Gressel doesn’t miss a beat: The 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year was very impressive in this game at right wing back. He got up and down the flanks, creating chances, and even had an assist on the second goal. The 24-year-old is going to make it tough for Tata Martino to bench him once the roster gets healthy.

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