D.C. United shocks MLS champions Atlanta United at Audi Field, 2-0

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D.C. United
ANNAPOLIS, MD — APRIL 14: D.C. United forward Paul Arriola (7) turns away after DC United had scored their lone goal during a MLS match between D.C United and the Columbus Crew on April 14, 2018, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, in Annapolis, Maryland. D.C United defeated the Columbus Crew 1-0. (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Washington D.C. (March 3, 2019) — MLS weekend kicked off yesterday, but Sunday’s action was hard to miss. At Audi Field, Atlanta United FC featured in the first match of their 2019 campaign. The reigning MLS champions took on Audi Field tenants, D.C. United.

Before the match even started, Atlanta United FC caught the attention of fans, as Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez was left out of the starting lineup. Martinez had featured in the week-day match against Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League.

D.C. United shocks MLS champions Atlanta United at Audi Field, 2-0

Meanwhile, Julian Gressel also took the bench for Atlanta.

The decision didn’t help Atlanta’s attack. Josef Martinez found touches, but couldn’t garner a shot to really throw off Bill Hamid. Instead, D.C. United didn’t hold back any punches. Wayne Rooney fed passes left and right to players like Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola and Lucas Rodríguez.

It was Arriola that earned the first goal of D.C. United’s new season at Audi Field. Arriola snuck past Martinez on a set piece and found a rebound, loose ball. He slid it past Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan, puzzling the Atlanta defense on how they missed the U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder.

Meanwhile, D.C. United added to their lead early in the second half. In the 58th minute, Acosta got some help from the wet ground, due to the snowstorm hitting the East Coast this weekend. Acosta’s ball slipped and skipped on the ground and then past Guzan.

Atlanta, in desperation mode for a goal, decided to sub in Pity Martinez and Gressel in the 59th minute. However, the substitutes didn’t help produce any goals for Atlanta United. Instead, D.C. United picked up three points and some confidence for head coach Ben Olsen.

Meanwhile, Atlanta returns to mid-week action on Wednesday against Mexican club Monterrey. Leg one will be held at Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Guadalupe, Mexico, on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, leg two will be held at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on March 13 at 8 p.m. ET.

Three Takeaways

  1. Arriola’s goal will help with confidence: Last season was a bit of a rollercoaster for Paul Arriola. Trying to find his way in and out of the U.S. Men’s National Team wasn’t helping his confidence. That seemed to transpire to his club performance, as he stuck with seven goals in 28 appearances. However, Arriola had a solid shift tonight and three points early on will help his confidence — and the team’s confidence.
  2. Frank de Boer made the right call: Right now, Atlanta United FC have the privilege of featuring in the CONCACAF Champions League. Frank de Boer, first-year head coach for Atlanta, understands what Champions League soccer is like. A native of the Netherlands, he saw it in Europe, at the highest level. It wasn’t a mistake for de Boer to keep Gressel and Pity Martinez on the bench tonight. He needed to give his busy midfielders a break. However, it was surprising to see Josef Martinez go the full 90 minutes. He’ll have some tired legs on Wednesday.
  3. What kind of team will Atlanta be against FC Cincinnati? It’s reasonable to say that Atlanta looked tired tonight. There were only two starting lineup changes from the mid-week match against Herediano. And, there was a lot of running in that match. There’s currently three days until Atlanta suits up once again. Meanwhile, there’s a nice long plane ride to Mexico involved. Will Atlanta show up tired or ready to go?

What’s Next?

Atlanta’s next MLS match will be against expansion club FC Cincinnati on Sunday, March 10. This is the first match of the season held at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Last year, Atlanta broke countless MLS attendance records.

Meanwhile, FC Cincinnati is looking for their first win, after being smacked by the Seattle Sounders FC in their opening MLS contest.

As for D.C. United, Rooney will have another crack at scoring his first goal of the new season that same Sunday against New York City FC. That match will be held at Yankee Stadium with a 3 p.m. kick off time.

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