The Sports Inquirer

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Original Free Kick: Atlanta United earns 2-2 home draw against Nashville SC (5.29.21) — May 29, 2021

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United earns 2-2 home draw against Nashville SC (5.29.21)

Atlanta United entrance ahead of home contest against Montreal Impact
Photo credit: Atlanta United Communications (Karl L. Moore)

Two second-half goals by Nashville SC player Harry Mukhtar and first half goals by Atlanta United players Marcelino Moreno and Erik Lopez produced a 2-2 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta May 29.
The draw kept Nashville (2-0-5, 11 points) undefeated in Major League Soccer (MLS) play this season while Atlanta (2-1-4, 10 points) stayed undefeated through three home matches this year.

“The way I feel about this game is to analyze the whole game,” Atlanta manager Gabriel Heinze said. “The team was better for most of the game but there were moments when we weren’t calm and futbol will bring you back.”

“There a lot of emotions because you go through the game thinking that you’re playing well than that happens,” Atlanta United player George Bello said. “For me and I’m sure for alot of the guys it feels like a loss. We have to keep going its in the past now and have to regroup. Its still early in the season.”

Atlanta took 1-0 lead in the sixth minute on Marcelion Moreno strike. The play was set up on Miles Robinson’s chip pass over several Nashville defenders to a streaking Moreno in the penalty area. Moreno was able to receive the pass and pushed his right-footed shot past Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis. It was Moreno’s team-leading third goal of the season and Robinson’s first-career MLS assist.
Atlanta looked to double its lead in the 18th minute when Erik Lopez retrieved a loose ball in the Nashville penalty area and took a shot that required a diving Willis save from going in.
Atlanta outshot Nashville 8-4 and had 57-percent of possession in the first half.
Lopez increased Atlanta’s lead to 2-0 in the 51st minute. Moreno started the play with a drive down the middle of the field and passing the ball to Bello on the left side. Bello crossed the ball into the six-yard box to Lopez who back-tapped the ball with his right heel on a spinning move in his shot attempt. Its Lopez’s first goal with Atlanta United and Bello and Moreno got credit for the assist.

“We knew Nashville was an aggressive team if we tried to play through middle channels,” Bello said. “We were able to exploit those long balls out wide or the middle like Miles (Robinson) did in his assist. That worked out pretty well accept for the last 10 minutes.”

Nashville got on the board in the 80th minute on Hany Mukhtar’s goal assisted by Daniel Lovitz and Matt LaGrassa. Lovitz and LaGrassa passed the ball back and forth to each other down the left side before hitting a cutting Mukhtar down the middle of the penalty box to push his shot past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Nashville equalized in the 83rd minute on another goal by Mukhtar. He retrieved a deflected shot at the end of the six-yard box and hit the rebound past Guzan to tie the score.

“(Heinze) said we have to be focused for the full 90,” Bello said. “We can never think we’re better than the other team because that’s when everything goes downhill both in futbol and life.”

Nashville outshot Atlanta 14-12 in the contest while the home team led in time of possession with 61.8-percent.
Atlanta returns to action at home against Philadelphia June 20 while Nashville visits the New York Red Bulls June 18.

Original Free Kick: Hyndman, Barco lead Atlanta United to 2-1 win at Nashville SC in MLS opener (2.29.20) — March 1, 2020

Original Free Kick: Hyndman, Barco lead Atlanta United to 2-1 win at Nashville SC in MLS opener (2.29.20)

Atlanta United midfielder Emerson Hyndman #20 in action during the first half of the 2020 MLS season opener between Atlanta United FC and Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday February 29, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

By E. Marcel Pourtout

First-half goals from Emerson Hyndman and Ezequiel Barco led visiting Atlanta United to a 2-1 victory over host Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn in the MLS opener for both teams Feb. 29.
It was the first MLS contest for Nashville while Atlanta won its first season opener in four attempts.
Atlanta forward Josef Martinez, a three-time MLS Best XI selection and 2018 league MVP, injured his right leg in the 63rd minute battling for the ball against Nashville’s Dave Romney. He attempted to play through the injury but was replaced in the 69th minute by Adam Jahn.
Nashville outshot Atlanta 14-6 and in corner kick attempts 5-4. Atlanta led in possession 55.2 percent to 44.8 percent in the contest.
Atlanta took the 1-0 lead in the ninth minute on the first official shot of the contest. Ezequiel Barco took a pass from Franco Escobar and bent his right-footed shot from just outside of the penalty area past Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis.
Nashville’s first shot in the match came from Randall Leal in the 11th minute and was saved by Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Nashville pressured Atlanta’s defense through the next stanza of play included David Accam’s attempt in the penalty area in the 15th minute blocked by Atlanta’s Anton Walkes and Dominique Badji’s shot pushed just wide of the net in the 24th minute.
Nashville’s efforts were rewarded in the 28th minute when Walker Zimmerman scored the team’s first goal in MLS history to tie the score 1-1. An initial free kick by Nashville was headed down in the penalty area by Zimmerman who pushed his right-footed shot past Guzan.
Emerson Hyndman’s goal in the 37th minute gave Atlanta the 2-1 lead heading into halftime. He took a deflected ball off his chest and hit a right-footed shot past Willis.
Nashville outshot Atlanta 5-4 in the first half. Atlanta led in possession 61.6 percent to 38.4 percent and in corner kicks 2-1 through the first 45 minutes.
Laurence Wyke entered the game for Atlanta replacing Franco Escobar to start the second half to make his first-career MLS appearance.
Alan Winn entered the contest for Nashville replacing David Accam in the 65th minute and his shot attempt in the 67th minute was saved by Guzan.
Nashville’s best scoring opportunity in the second half came in the 78th minute when Leal’s shot attempt in the 78th minute hit the near post.
Jeff Larenowicz entered the match for Atlanta in the 81st minute replacing Pity Martinez.
Winn’s cross attempt in the 85th minute caught by Guzan in the penalty area.
Nashville also saw Hany Mukhtar’s shot attempt go high in the 87th minute and Abu Danladi’s attempt saved by Guzan in the 90th minute.
Willis received a yellow card in the 94th minute for playing a handball outside of the penalty area.

Original Free Kick: Nashville SC opens MLS tenure with home opener against Atlanta United #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer — February 29, 2020

Original Free Kick: Nashville SC opens MLS tenure with home opener against Atlanta United #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer

Atlanta United player Jeff Larentowicz
Photo credit: Atlanta United Communications

By E. Marcel Pourtout

Nashville SC makes it Major League Soccer (MLS) debut Feb. 29 when it hosts Atlanta United at Nissan Stadium.
Nashville has spent the previous two seasons in the United Soccer League (USL) in preparation for its stint in the top professional soccer league in the United States. The team enters MLS as an expansion franchise.
“You’ve got to think about pretty much everything that any team that exists at the moment has,” manager Gary Smith said according to the Nashville’s website. “They have an identity, they have a home that maybe they’ve played in for x amount of years that they can understand and appreciate and get the best out of. Everyone wants a home field advantage. I would say we don’t have a brand-new fanbase because we had a nice core of fans last year, but if we’re expecting upwards of maybe 50,000 at the weekend, there’s a heck of a lot of fans there that maybe haven’t watched a Nashville SC team play, certainly not an MLS team.”
Nashville acquired several MLS veterans this past off-season including defender Walker Zimmerman from LAFC and midfielder Dax McCarthy from the Chicago Fire.
Atlanta enters its fourth year in MLS coming off of a 2019 campaign which saw it post 58 points in the regular season and advancement to the Eastern Conference finals in the playoffs.
“We have to wait and see how Nashville plays,” Atlanta manager Frank de Boer said about preparing for a first-time opponent. “For them it’s something new and they may be a little nervous. We have a lot of respect for them to put together something nice together on the pitch because it’s their home first game. There will be a lot of attention so we have to be prepared and play our own game.”
Atlanta returns four MLS All-Stars in midfielders Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco as well as goalkeeper Brad Guzan and forward Josef Martinez. Atlanta won the second leg of its first-round CONCACAF Champions League match against FC Motagua 3-0 Feb. 26 ahead of its MLS opener.

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United Fernando Meza pre-Nashville SC road presser (2.27.20) #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer #mls #majorleaguesoccer — February 28, 2020

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United Fernando Meza pre-Nashville SC road presser (2.27.20) #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer #mls #majorleaguesoccer

Detail shots of the King’s Kit during the 2020 Atlanta United Media Day Content Carwash at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta, GA, on Friday January 17, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

The Sports Inquirer attended the presser of Atlanta United player Fernando Meza following his team’s practice Feb. 27.

Topics included Atlanta facing Club America in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, playing at Estadio Azteca, adjusting to Atlanta United and learning English, working alongside Pity Martinez, Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco and preparing for the team’s MLS opener at Nashville SC Feb. 29.

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United Frank de Boer pre-Nashville road presser (2.27.20) #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer #mls #majorleaguesoccer — February 27, 2020

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United Frank de Boer pre-Nashville road presser (2.27.20) #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer #mls #majorleaguesoccer

Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer
Photo credit: Atlanta United Communications

The Sports Inquirer attended the presser of Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer following his team’s practice Feb. 27.

Topics included Atlanta facing Club America in the upcoming quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, an injury update on Miles Robinson and George Bello and the team preparing for its MLS opener at Nashville SC Feb. 29.

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United Emerson Hyndman pre-Nashville road presser (2.27.20) #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer #mls #majorleaguesoccer —

Original Free Kick: Atlanta United Emerson Hyndman pre-Nashville road presser (2.27.20) #sportsinquirer #atlutd #uniteandconquer #mls #majorleaguesoccer

Atlanta United player Emerson Hyndman (middle) makes pass during home contest against Saint Louis FC in the US Open Cup.
Photo credit: Karl L. Moore/Atlanta United

The Sports Inquirer attended the presser of Atlanta United player Emerson Hyndman following his team’s practice Feb. 27.

Topics included Atlanta facing Club America in the upcoming quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, Hyndman spending a full training camp with Atlanta in 2020 after joining the team midway through the 2019 season and the team preparing for its MLS opener at Nashville SC Feb. 29.