Atlanta United FC pull off stellar comeback against Herediano

Atlanta United FC
HEREDIA, COSTA RICA — FEBRUARY 21: Josef Martinez of Atlanta United (USA) Dispute the ball with the player Oscar Granados of CS Herediano (CRC), during the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League 2019 at Eladio Stadium Rosabal Cordero on February 21, 2019 in Heredia Costa Rica. (Photo by John Durán/Getty Images)

Atlanta, Georgia (February 28, 2019) — There’s no leap year in February this year, but Atlanta United FC sure had a major leap of faith heading into their CONCACAF Champions League match tonight.

Down 3-1 on aggregate to Herediano, Atlanta United FC needed two goals. They weren’t facing off against the Costa Rican club in their usual home of the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Instead, Atlanta called Fifth Third Bank Stadium home. With a capacity of around 10,000 fans, Atlanta United FC kept their faithful entertained.

Atlanta United FC pull off stellar comeback against Herediano

Just 47 seconds into the match, reigning MLS MVP Josef Martinez scored the opening tally. From there, the floodgates opened. In the 9th minute, Julian Gressel tacked on another goal, giving Atlanta United the two goals they needed. At that moment, Atlanta United stood with a score that would see them advance.

However, the MLS champions weren’t finished scoring.

Martinez found the back of Daniel Cambronero’s net in the 63rd minute. Meanwhile, Leandro González Pirez tacked on the final goal of the match in the 83rd minute. Atlanta United had completely transformed from the team that performed last week. In Costa Rica, Atlanta had given up three goals and an entire city panicked.

However, under head coach Frank de Boer, there’s no room for panicking. Instead, Atlanta United picked up energy from their home crowd and propelled to a resilient win. They join the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo as advancers in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Sporting Kansas City can also join that group, as they face off with Toluca late on Thursday night.

Atlanta United FC will face Monterrey in the quarterfinals.

Monterrey is from Liga MX, down in Mexico. Their road to advancing to the quarterfinals included a victory over Alianza F.C., a club based out of Panama. Meanwhile, Monterrey is in the middle of their Liga MX season.

Three Takeaways

  1. Don’t worry about Frank: There was plenty of worry going around Atlanta when the beloved MLS champions fell to Herediano in the opening Round of 16 match between the two. However, Atlanta United has Josef Martinez, Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez and Brek Shea, who put in a ton of work in the second leg. A championship team that brings back virtually its entire roster? Don’t worry about coach De Boer.
  2. Leandro González Pirez finds redemption: In the first leg of this series, Leandro González Pirez found himself in a rough situation, giving up a crucial goal to Herediano. Instead of dwelling on the performance, Pirez found redemption with his goal in the 83rd minute. You know what they say about second chances.
  3. Atlanta United FC is still at the top level: Don’t let leg one fool you. Atlanta United FC is still a dangerous team. Entering the first week of MLS action, there’s bound to be some tired legs for the players. However, don’t expect them to just sit back and let D.C. United run right through them. Atlanta has something to prove, showing the league that they’re not going to have a post-championship slump.

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