Atlanta goals: Almiron 16’ Villalba 19’, 23’
NYCFC goals: Harrison 71’
A Quick Look…
New York City FC went into their fourth game on the road in succession in good form, looking to make ground on MLS Eastern leaders Toronto – but found the Atlanta attack in unforgiving mood as they gained quick revenge for their 3-1 loss at Yankee Stadium three weeks ago.
Patrick Vieira will be concerned with the way his side were on the back foot so often to Atlanta’s fast-thinking forward line, but pleased with the way his side regrouped and stuck to their principles despite conceding three early goals.
Jack Harrison restored some pride late on, but the loss leaves NYCFC 6-5-2 through 13 games - but still well placed in the table.
Things were looking good for NYCFC in the early minutes, with plenty of energy and zip causing the Atlanta defense problems.
The NYCFC high press had the home side panicking in possession and making mistakes.
But Atlanta’s explosive attack, capable of ripping any defense to shreds, suddenly clicked into gear and within seven blistering minutes, NYCFC found themselves three goals behind.
Atlanta’s tactics of playing over the press instead of through it, started to pay off and on 16’, Almiron converted Julian Gressell’s low cross from the right, giving Sean Johnson no chance.
NYCFC were on the ropes and still reeling from going behind when Atlanta struck again just three minutes later.
This time the attack came from the left with the dangerous Miguel Villalba allowed too much time and space and the Argentinian cut into the box before curling a powerful shot past Johnson to double Atlanta’s lead.
And Atlanta still weren’t finished - but their third goal on 23’ maybe shouldn’t have stood.
Alex Callens was chasing a long ball back toward goal when he seemed to have his heels clipped by the dangerous Gressell – but the referee missed it – and the German claimed his second assist of the game by teeing up Villalba who calmly swept the ball home from close in.
Three shots, three goals told its own story.
It took 36 minutes for NYCFC to force the home keeper into action with David Villa’s low shot from 20 yards pushed away by Alec Kann.
At the break, Patrick Vieira had some thinking to do – change players? Change tactics? Something had to give if NYCFC were going to head home with anything other than a heavy loss.
Atlanta, backed by a partisan and passionate home crowd, were showing why this was the fifth time in 12 the Five Stripes have hit three or more goals in a game this season.
NYCFC again saw more of the ball than Atlanta after the re-start but couldn’t find the goal that was needed to launch a comeback.
There were half-chances and one or two desperate clearances by the home defense, but the longer the game went on without reward, the less likely a fightback became.
Then, finally, on 71’, Sweat played a deep, inch-perfect cross into the box and Jack Harrison met the ball on the full to place calmly into the net – game on?
David Villa caused panic as he challenged Kann for a cross but Atlanta cleared the danger. A second goal had needed to come quickly, but it didn’t.
Atlanta rarely threatened Johnson’s goal in the second-half, but they’d done more than enough in that red-hot first-half seven minutes to be able to see the game out.
The loss means NYCFC are still third while Atlanta, now seventh in the MLS Eastern table, are now top scorers in the division.
Alex Callens was in control of the situation as he chased a long ball into the NYCFC half, but he had his heels clipped by Gressell who went on to set up Atlanta’s third goal.
Had the foul been given, NYCFC might have got their game together and found a way back, but three goals behind turned a difficult job into mission impossible.
Man of the Match…
The 20-year-old English midfielder showed why Vieira rates him so highly by never letting his head drop even when things were going against NYCFC.
Inventive and energetic, he deserved his goal and again showed his potential and positive attitude in adversity.…
Stats and Milestones…
- Atlanta are the first side this season to put three goals past NYCFC.
- This was NYCFC’s first visit to the Bobby Dodd Stadium
- NYCFC are now 6-5-2 for the 2017 season through 13 games
- Patrick Vieira is now just one game away from his landmark 50th game as NYCFC boss (21-17-11)
- David Villa has now made 75 starts for NYCFC
- Jack Harrison now has five goals this season – already topping his tally of four from last season,
- The NYCFC players wore black armbands in respect of the victims of the Manchester attack a week ago.
How They Lined Up…
Patrick Vieira named an unchanged line-up for the Atlanta trip, keeping faith in the side that beat Orlando City 3-0 last week.
That meant back-to-back starts for Mikey Lopez with Ben Sweat, Maxime Chanot, Jack Harrison, Rodney Wallace and David Villa also retaining their starting place.
NYCFC will look to bounce back quickly when they face New England Revolution at Yankee Stadium next Wednesday, May 31 with a 7:30pm kick-off.