Atlanta United kept their MLS Cup Playoffs hopes alive with a vital 1-0 win away at rivals Orlando City on Wednesday evening.
After an hour-long weather delay, we were treated to a tepid first 45 minutes by two sides who usually offer us so many fireworks. Even so, both sides still traded some decent chances, with the visitors missing the best opportunities through Andrew Gutman and Luiz Araujo.
Orlando took the game to their opponents more at the start of the second half with the likes of Ercan Kara and Mauricio Pereyra flashing efforts just off target.
But it was Atlanta United who finally broke the deadlock via another glorious effort from Thiago Almada – the rising talent combining with Gutman on the edge of the box before putting Antonio Carlos on the floor and finishing beyond the helpless Pedro Gallese. No wonder he’s been called up to the Argentine national team…
Orlando piled even more pressure on in a desperate attempt to salvage a result but through a mix of stern defending and alert goalkeeping from Raul Gudino, the Five Stripes held on for what could be three priceless points in their battle to make the Playoffs.
Read on for full player ratings from Exploria Stadium…
GK: Pedro Gallese – 7/10 – In a quiet game, Gallese kept his concentration to make a few excellent saves. Helpless for the Atlanta goal.
RB: Kyle Smith – 6/10 – Got into some dangerous areas and delivered some decent crosses but was a little suspect defensively.
CB: Antonio Carlos – 6/10 – Immaculate with the ball and won everything in the air, but was put on the floor by Almada for the goal.
CB: Rodrigo Schlegel – 5/10 – Dragged way out of position for the Almada goal to ruin a decent performance.
LB: Joao Moutinho – 7/10 – A solid defensive effort and always tried to go forward with the ball.
CM: Mauricio Pereyra – 8/10 – Responsible for many of Orlando’s best moments with some excellent passing, and came close to putting the Lions ahead in the second half.
CM: Wilder Cartagena – 7/10 – Turned in a 100% pass completion rate and fought hard without the ball.
RW: Ivan Angulo – 5/10 – A few dangerous moments but faded out of the match in the second half.
CAM: Junior Urso – 4/10 – Unusually tame performance. Lost a lot of his individual battles.
LW: Facundo Torres – 5/10 – Showed flashes of brilliance but couldn’t find an opening.
ST: Ercan Kara – 5/10 – Battled hard but was largely starved of service.
SUB: Ruan (58′, for Smith) – 7/10 – An energetic performance at both ends of the field.
SUB: Benji Michel (58′, for Kara) – 4/10 – Lost the ball too often, didn’t get going.
SUB: Andres Perea (65′, for Cartagena) – 7/10 – Added more guile to Orlando’s play.
SUB: Tesho Akindele (74′, for Angulo) – 6/10 – Gave the Lions more of a focal point but lacked cutting edge.
SUB: Jake Mulraney (74′, for Urso) – 5/10 – Failed to change the game against his former side.
GK: Raul Gudino – 7/10 – A few shaky moments when it came to claiming the ball, but made some very important saves.
RB: Ronald Hernandez – 6/10 – Clean on the ball and solid without it.
CB: Juan Purata – 6/10 – Got the job done at the back and almost connected with a couple of long diagonal passes.
CB: Alan Franco – 8/10 – Played on despite what looked like a nasty wrist injury and led by example. One of his best performances in an Atlanta United jersey.
LB: Andrew Gutman – 9/10 – Missed a glorious chance in the first half but made up for it with the assist for Almada’s goal and a superb all-round performance.
CM: Santiago Sosa – 8/10 – Excellent on the ball and came up with some big defensive plays to break Orlando’s rhythm.
CM: Amar Sejdic – 5/10 – Clean on the ball but wasn’t quite up for the fight in midfield. Lost a lot of 50-50 duels.
RW: Brooks Lennon – 5/10 – Is capable of deadly crossing but had pretty much nothing to aim for. Clean on the ball but quite unspectacular.
CAM: Thiago Almada – 9/10 – Trying to tackle Thiago Almada is like trying to grasp water. Another golazo from the Argentine, who was a menace all night with his dribbling and passing.
LW: Luiz Araujo – 5/10 – Missed an even better chance than Gutman and blazed a few shots over the bar. Deserves some credit for sticking at it, though.
ST: Dom Dwyer – 6/10 – Had a thankless task on his own up-front and was often the only Atlanta United player inside the box. Never relented with his work rate.
SUB: Matheus Rossetto (56′, for Sejdic) – 6/10 – A promising run out, even if he looked a bit rusty.
SUB: Josef Martinez (56′, for Dwyer) – 5/10 – Really didn’t get into the game at all but did his bit defensively.
SUB: Edwin Mosquera (67′, for Lennon) – 5/10 – Tried to take the game to the Orlando defense but was well defended.
SUB: Caleb Wiley (87′, for Almada) – N/A – A late sub to help see out the match.
SUB: Ronaldo Cisneros (87′, for Araujo) – N/A – As above.
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