Monterrey, Atlanta United FC show intense physicality in Monterrey win

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Atlanta United FC
Jonathan Gonzalez (L) of Mexico's Monterrey vies for the ball with Ezequiel Barco (R) of US United Atlanta FC during the first leg of quarterfinal of the Concacaf Champions League football match at the BBVA Bancomer stadium in Monterrey, Mexico on March 6, 2019. (Photo by Julio Cesar AGUILAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Guadalupe, Mexico (March 7, 2019) — Atlanta United FC has had a rough couple of weeks. Despite defeating Herediano to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, Atlanta has been battered and bruised.

After falling to D.C. United this past weekend in regular-season MLS action, Atlanta wanted to make a point in Mexico. In the first leg of the quarterfinals, Atlanta headed south of the border to Monterrey’s home stadium.

Monterrey, Atlanta United FC show intense physicality in Monterrey win

In their home arena, Monterrey didn’t disappoint. Early into the match, Monterrey had some luck on their side. After a foul in the box from Leandro González Pirez, defender Nicolás Sánchez lined up his penalty kick past Brad Guzan. That was the first of three goals that would plague the goalkeeper.

After a slight halftime lead, the floodgates opened for Monterrey.

In the second half, Monterrey tallied two goals. In the waning minutes of action, Dorlan Pabón sent a dagger of a shot past Guzan. His shot was outside of the box, forcing Guzan to stretch his whole body out. However, four minutes later, Jesús Gallardo wanted a piece of the action.

The second defender of the night to score, Gallardo found the ball at his feet off a rebound. Guzan was almost facing a whole different direction. With that, Monterrey took a commanding lead heading into leg two.

However, Atlanta pulled off heroics against Herediano. After going down in the first leg by a score of 3-1, Atlanta piled on four goals at their home stadium. Next week, they’ll be at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, where an even bigger crowd is expected.

But first, Atlanta United FC has MLS action. On Sunday, the reigning MLS Cup champions will host expansion club FC Cincinnati. The match is slated to begin at 5 p.m. ET.

In next week’s CONCACAF Champions League match, Atlanta will face Monterrey at 9 p.m. ET. Atlanta will need some sort of miracle to make it to the semifinals.

Three Takeaways

  1. Can Atlanta win leg two? Not without confidence: Atlanta United FC need a win over FC Cincinnati on Sunday. The match might not technically be related to CONCACAF Champions League action, but it is in a “behind-the-scenes” certain way. Atlanta United are shaking their heads after this loss and against the D.C. United loss. Some goals and a victory against FC Cincinnati could boost spirits.
  2. Welcome to CONCACAF, Atlanta: Make no mistake, Leandro González Pirez has not been playing well lately. However, the penalty kick call against him was ridiculous and a total miscue from the referee. There’s no doubt that González Pirez pushed off Dorlan Pabón. But, the call was extremely soft. In the words of plenty of football fans around the Americas, “Atlanta got CONCACAF’d.” Meanwhile, it also didn’t help that Pity Martinez got smacked and hacked around the entire match. This match could’ve used more yellow cards.
  3. Desperation mode: Atlanta United FC have been implementing a three-man backline. That might be the cause to some of the issues the team is facing. However, next week, the team has no choice but to use the formation again. There needs to be an extreme amount of focus on the attacking game. Frank de Boer could’ve used some substitutions in the match, that weren’t at the last minute — literally — of regular-time.

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