Original Free Kick: Atlanta United hosts FC Dallas in Major League Soccer action (9.23.20)

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan #1 celebrates after making a save during the match against New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA, on Saturday October 19, 2019. (Photo by Steffenie Burns/Atlanta United)

FC Dallas visits Atlanta United in Major League Soccer action at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night.
Dallas (5-4-2, 19 points) enters the contest on a three-match winning streak which includes a 3-2 victory at Sporting Kansas City Sept. 19. Ryan Hollingshead’s goal in the 87th minute proved to be the game-winner for Dallas which also had Franco Jara notch two first-half goals.
“We were hungry to get a third (win) in a row and gain momentum,” Dallas manager Luchi Gonzalez said. “Our guys didn’t give up, believed we could still push the game and exposed space behind for the game-winner. I’m proud of them but we have to re-patch the wounds, regenerate and be ready for another game. That’s the type of schedule we have right now.”
Dallas is third in the Western Conference standings, two points behind the first-place Seattle Sounders. Bryan Acosta received a red card in the Kansas City contest and is suspended for the Atlanta match.
Atlanta (3-2-7, 11 points) dropped its home contest to Inter Miami CF 2-1 Sept. 19. Jon Gallagher scored the lone goal for Atlanta in defeat.
“The first issue is that we lost the first goal on the counter attack,” Atlanta interim manager Stephen Glass said. “That’s something we specifically talked about the opportunity to tackle on their half to prevent the counter. That’s something that should be prevented. We didn’t get shots off in the second half.”
Atlanta is now winless in its last six contests and won only one of its last 11 matches dating back to July 21. Atlanta sits 12th in the Eastern Conference standings, one point out of 10th place and a spot in the playoffs.
“Dallas is coming off of three wins,” Glass said. “It’s not easy in this league on any given day but this isn’t a group of players that are going to roll over and accept that things aren’t happening. There are fine margins to getting wins and hopefully that starts Wednesday night.”

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United drops 2-1 home contest to Inter Miami CF (9.19.20)

Atlanta United player Jon Gallagher
Photo credit: Atlanta United Communications

Two first half goals by visiting Inter Miami CF led to a 2-1 victory over Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday night. It’s the first road victory of the season for Miami while Atlanta’s winless streak extends to six matches.
Juan Agudelo scored the first goal of the contest for Miami (3-2-7, 11 points) in the second minute. Lewis Morgan crossed a ball that was deflected by multiple Atlanta defenders into the middle of the penalty box, recovered by Agudelo and shot past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan with his right foot.
Atlanta (3-2-7, 11 points) responded with a goal by Jon Gallagher in the fifth minute to tie the score 1-1. George Bello passed the ball to Gallagher in the penalty area and his left-footed shot into the upper-right corner of the net went past Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles. Bello and Jeff Larentowicz were given an assist for the score.
Miami retook the lead in the 11th minute on a header by Brek Shea, making the score 2-1. Rodolfo Pizarro received a throw in from Morgan to the right of the penalty area and crossed his pass into Shea who had a clean shot past Guzan. Pizarro and Morgan each received credit for an assist on the goal.
Miami looked to increase its lead to 3-1 in the 45th minute on a goal by Victor Ulloa but was deemed offside by the sideline official.
Miami outshot Atlanta (10-5) and attempted more corner kicks (3-0) in the first half. Atlanta led in possession 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent through the first 45 minutes.
Atlanta’s best scoring opportunity came in the 69th minute when Robles made a diving save on a Brooks Lennon header to keep the 2-1 lead for Miami.
“We weren’t good enough and unfortunately those moments came quickly and early in the game,” Larentowicz said. “Their counter attack and speed was something we talked about all week and it still bit us on the first goal. They were sharper than us in the second goal and there’s really no excuse on that one.”
Miami outshot Atlanta 10-8 and each team attempted three corner kicks.
“The first issue is that we lost the first goal on the counter attack,” Atlanta interim manager Stephen Glass said. “That’s something we specifically talked about the opportunity to tackle on their half to prevent the counter. That’s something that should be prevented. We didn’t get shots off in the second half. We had a number of crosses but they packed us in.”
Atlanta has now won only one of its last 11 contests.
“Everyone is obviously disappointed,” Larentowicz said. “It’s something we’re not used to. We as a team have to rebound. You have to be humble when you’re winning and stand up when you’re losing. Right now we’re in a tough stretch and lost a couple in a row. As much as you don’t want to look at your mistakes, you can’t do it and have to fight your way out of it.”

Original Free Kick: Inter Miami CF earns home win over Atlanta United (9.9.20)

Atlanta United player Eric Remedi handles ball during home contest against the Philadelphia Union.
Photo credit: Atlanta United Communications

Lewis Morgan’s two goals paced Inter Miami CF to a 2-1 home victory over visiting Atlanta United in Major League Soccer action Wednesday night at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Morgan’s first goal of the night came in the 28th minute. The play started on a counter attack by Miami (2-6-2, eight points) with Rodolfo Pizarro pushing the ball into the penalty area and passing it to Morgan who’s right-footed shot past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan gave the home team the 1-0 lead.

Atlanta (3-5-2, 11 points) tied the score 1-1 in the 33rd minute on a goal by Eric Remedi. The midfielder’s shot was blocked in the penalty area but he retrieved the rebound and pushed a right-footed shot while falling past Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles.

Miami retook the lead 2-1 on Morgan’s second goal of the night in the 38th minute. Ben Sweet’s crossing pass into the penalty area was brought down by Morgan who chipped a right-footed shot past Guzan.

Atlanta appeared to tie the score 2-2 in the 43rd minute on Erick “Cubo” Torres’ goal off a rebounded penalty shot that was taken by Ezequiel Barco but saved by Robles. The penalty shot attempt was awarded to the road team after Miami player Nicholas Figal elbowed Atlanta player Jon Gallagher in the penalty area. Figal was given a yellow card for the foul.

However, referee Robert Sibigal dismissed the goal due to a player from each team entering the penalty area before the shot attempt after the VAR review. The final ruling was a retake of the penalty shot. The second penalty attempt by Barco was saved by Robles in the 47th minute.

Atlanta outshot Miami 8-4 in the first half and led in possession 58.9 percent to 41.1 percent. Each team took two corner kicks as well.

Atlanta’s best opportunities to tie the score in the second half came on a low free kick by Torres in the 55th minute and Emerson Hyndman’s shot attempt just outside of the penalty area in the 79th minute. Both attempts were saved by Robles.

Atlanta outshot Miami 13-8, attempted more corner kicks (7-4) and led in possession 58.8 percent to 34.8 percent.

“We gave up two cheap goals in the first half,” Atlanta player Brooks Lennon said. “Both goals came off of our mistakes. One came off of a set piece that that got cleared out and we weren’t positioned in the right area and they were able to score a goal that we shouldn’t give away. We had possession most of the night but it doesn’t matter you have to put the ball in the back of the net. We had our chances but unfortunately we didn’t do that tonight. We missed the penalty kick and had one called back that would have been the equalizer. Just a tough night overall. We can’t dwell on this performance. We’re very, very disappointed but have to move forward.”